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Dream flight school provides piloting experience

Five-year-old Colin Flanagan sat in the cockpit of a small airplane, making vroom, vroom noises as he turned the wheel back and forth with his hands, pretending he was commanding the plane high in the sky.

Sometimes on Saturday mornings, Colin and his family bring juice and donuts and stand in the Carroll County Regional Airport's parking lot and watch planes take off and land. During sports practices, Colin will pause, peer up at the sky and say "airplane," which mom Beth has dubbed an "aviation timeout."

For Christmas, Colin's parents gave him aviator sunglasses, a pilot's jacket and a discovery flight lesson at Dream Flight School located at the airport in Westminster. Colin sat inside the machine he's fascinated with for the first time Saturday.

About four years ago, Jeremy Etzkorn sat in his office in Arlington, Va., at a web development company and watched daily as planes arrived and left Reagan National Airport. He said he had an urge to try flying a plane himself, took a discovery flight course and was hooked.

He quit his job to get his pilot's license and opened Dream Flight School in September. The school gives $139 discovery flight lessons - a one-on-one training session with an instructor - to those who've always wanted to try piloting a plane, according to assistant manager Susan McKinney.

Those serious about learning the craft can take lessons often - or multiple daily - at the school and can receive their pilot's license after flying 40 hours, according to Etzkorn, and passing an exam with a Federal Aviation Administration official present.

Brandon Osborne is one of those students.

The 21-year-old's summer schedule: wake up early; fly two lessons per day, weather permitting; study his plane information; practice flying with an at-home simulator; go to bed; wake up and repeat.

"I've wanted to fly my entire life," he said. "When I was a kid, I would always talk about airplanes, always had a toy airplane in my hand."

Osborne finished two years in the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and has his sights set on becoming a pilot in the navy. These classes, he said, will hopefully give him a competitive edge.

As a kid, he and his parents would drive to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to watch the planes, just like Colin's family still does.

Saturday at about 11 a.m., Brandon checked the plane's wings, on the right side, then the left. Next, he checked the fuel. After the engine revved to its rumbling roar, he and instructor Arjang Doorandish took off.

Earlier in the morning, the clouds were too low for Colin and dad Matt Flanagan to fly. But that didn't much matter to Colin.

"Are you as happy as a clam?" his grandma Anne Townsley asked.

"No, I'm as happy as the sun," Colin replied.

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