Senior nears end of aviation school


Photo courtesy of Raymon Xu

“I fly planes, I guess,” senior Raymon Xu wrote about his piloting career. Since 2020, Xu has logged more than 80 hours behind the controls.

Ziad El Bego, Staff Writer

The process of becoming a pilot is a difficult and long one, but Naperville Central senior Raymon Xu is nearing the end of his training.
“In simple terms, I fly planes,” Xu said. “Specifically, I am a student pilot, but yeah, I fly planes. Simple.”  

Xu has logged roughly 80 hours of flight since he started flying in 2020. Xu has been interested in flight since he was much younger.
“ I was really into aviation when I was like eight years old,” Xu said. “That’s when I was like, oh, okay, flying is for me.” 

Many steps need to be taken to become a pilot. Xu has successfully completed almost all of the requirements, including flying solo cross country. 

“[For a student pilot to become a pilot] they must fly solo for at least 10 hours, and five of those hours must be cross country,” Xu said “This means you have to fly from one airport to another and that [flight] must be at least 25 miles.”

Xu has already completed his cross-country flight and is now in the final stages of getting his  license. 

“One major accomplishment for me was actually flying solo for the first time,” Xu said. “That’s when I finally didn’t need an instructor sitting next to me telling me what to do. [Everything was]  entirely my own decisions and entirely my own choices” 

Xu has been flying for years, yet he still experiences the same rush when he starts the plane. 

“I’m going to be honest and say that even from the day I started flight training to now, every single time I get into a runway and apply full throttle, the adrenaline just flows through me,” Xu said. “That feeling of the engine, my sight vibrating, it’s like a completely different experience from my car. It’s like being able to sense everything that’s going on.”

Xu describes flying at night as one of the greatest things the hobby has to offer.

“When you’re flying at night and the air is super smooth and [you] see the Chicago skyline to your north, it’s so cool.” Xu said. 

Xu has trained with multiple instructors since he started flying. Xu’s current instructor is Michael Bova, who has been instructing at SimplyFly since the summer of 2022.

“[My] role is to instruct the students not only how to pilot an aircraft but conduct all ground operations, from preflight to post-flight as well as aeronautical knowledge,” Bova said. “Anything from basic aerodynamics to calculating weight and balance, aircraft performance, advanced weather theory, etc.”

Bova positively recounts seeing Xu’s journey towards becoming a pilot. 

“I’ve really seen him progress from becoming a safe pilot to a proficient pilot,” Bova said. “You can really tell he wants to become a professional. Every time I fly with him he’s always taking care of business and not joking around.”

Bova describes Xu as a well-disciplined pilot and a good student. 

“Some people just do it for fun as a hobby and they take things lightly which shouldn’t happen in aviation,” Bova said. “Raymon has always done everything by the book, and he’s really well-disciplined. When he does make a mistake, he’s only got to do it once to learn from [it]. It’s really pleasant to work with a student who learns from their mistakes and continues to get better and better up to those standards.”

Xu plans to continue flying in the future by becoming a professional commercial pilot. 

“I’m basically at the end of my flight training journey,” Xu said. “I think I’ll get my license before spring break. Once I get my license I’m able to fly anywhere I want without anyone questioning what I’m doing and I’ll be able to bring friends along with me. So, yeah, I am at the very end, the runway [is] in sight.”