MEMBER PROFILE – ANDRE KERSTENS
Dear Aviator Friends,
Mike asked me to write something for our Chapter newsletter especially regarding my aviation history.
Well to be honest, I don’t have much history in aviation! I don’t have grandfathers or a father who have been aviators their whole life. No, my ﬁrst introduction to aviation was only 5 years ago and it was my wife Michela who got me hooked. In May 2003 we moved from Switzerland to San Diego and in 2004 when I was thinking about a birthday present for Michela, I remembered her saying that she wanted to learn to ﬂy when we got to the US. After ﬁnding a ﬂight instructor (his license plate was “6ypilot”) who could take her for an introductory ﬂight the big day came a couple of weeks later and we drove out to Montgomery airport (KMYF) to take to the skies. Michela was in the left seat of the Cessna 172 while I drove along on the back seat with the camera. Even for a 172 it turned out to be quite a thrill ride over the beaches and the ocean. We both loved it! Michela decided to hold oﬀ on her PPL until later in life (she’s a very busy computer scientist), but I enjoyed it enough to go for an introductory ﬂight myself, this time with Michela in the back with the camera. And from that moment on, I had found myself a new passion.
I didn’t take my checkride in San Diego, because in 2005 we moved to El Paso, TX to take up new jobs. What a diﬀerence a desert makes! To ﬁnish up my training I hooked up with Gene Dawson’s ﬂight school in Santa Teresa, NM which was about a 25 minute drive from our house.
Well, if I didn’t quite understand density altitude before, I was certainly going to get to know it in New Mexico! 100F days slow a 172 climbs 4000 ft above sea level. On some days I was happy to see 200 ft/min on my VSI. Anyway, had a lot of fun learning to ﬂy in the desert and got my PPL on Sept 3, 2005. An instrument rating quickly followed. By the way, did I mention how easy it is to ﬁnd an airport in the desert? You can spot airports from a 100 miles away on a clear day. What a diﬀerence with N57, which is the airport I started to ﬂy from after we had moved to Newark, Delaware in 2007. I still have trouble ﬁnding the ﬁeld even if it is right in front of my nose!
Newark is also the place where I decided to start building my Van’s RV-7A. I’m about half way through and currently working on the fuse. Hopefully by the end of this summer I will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and ﬂy this bird out of my workshop into the big blue sky.
Feel free to visit my shop any time, an extra pair of hands to buck some rivets is always welcome!