Member Spotlight: Cheryl Pappa

Sonja Wosnitzer

When did you join the Jersey Aero Club?



Cheryl Pappa

I joined in 1984.

Sonja Wosnitzer

What are your pilot ratings?

Cheryl Pappa

I flew with Greg Hill for my instrument rating, and HP and complex sign offs, and Jim Hamilton for my Commercial and CFI ratings, two excellent club instructors. I got my MEII in Connecticut, and my ATP while instructing in Texas.

S.W

What made you join? Who sponsored you? Did you learn to fly at JAC?

C.P.

I had been flying for about four years before I joined the club and I was flying out of the flight school where you learned to fly, under different ownership at that time, out of Monmouth Executive airport. My sponsor was Bob Baker an engineer at Fort Monmouth, who was also a customer of mine and a really great mentor. I was talking to my primary instructor, we stayed in touch, I mean, until he passed away a couple of years ago. I had flown his friends' Mooney, which was an M20 C, and they had the Johnson Bar..., but I just loved that airplane and he said, why don't you join the Jersey Aero Club, they have a Mooney. So I really just joined it to fly the Mooney. I really wasn't a club kind of person. So I just thought, I'm going to join to fly the Mooney. I was on the waiting list for like three months, or four.

S.W

Best "$100 hamburger?"

C.P.

I don't have a best destination for a $100.00 hamburger, because I've been a vegetarian since I was eleven. But I often flew to Northeast Philly in the evenings with friends to eat at the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant.

S.W

Favorite time of year to fly?

C.P.

When I first learned to fly, I started flying in the Fall and it's just cooler. The airplane performs better. I like it better. And, you know, summertime has too many people, it's hazy and hot and dense.

S.W

So you came for the Mooney, but stayed for the people? Do you fly mostly for fun?

C.P.

(laughing) Oh, well, I fly for fun, and I hope to retire someday, not in the real far distant future, so I want to instruct a lot more. I used to instruct a lot. Now I fly just for fun. I take friends. I used to fly a lot with my mother. She had never flown in an airplane before and I got my license in, I don't know, maybe eight months. And I told her that I took my check right on whatever day, Thursday, and I would schedule it for Saturday. And she said, oh, my God, I thought it was going to take years! (laughing) But once she came up, we used to fly a lot. We flew to Boston. We flew everywhere.

S.W

Furthest flown trip?

C.P.

I don't know whether it's Florida or Wisconsin, you know, I've flown to Oshkosh like six times, so it could be that. I've flown a lot of places I don't know which one's the furthest, I'd have to calculate it for you.

S.W

How old were you when you started to fly and did you always want to fly? Do you have pilots in your family?

C.P.

So no one in my family was a pilot. But, I started hang gliding when I was almost 18. I learned to hang glide with the New Jersey Hang Gliders Association. I think the guy that taught me how to hang glide, I think he invented ultralights -- I mean, I don't know that for sure, because it was a long time ago, -- but I remember once we couldn't go flying and literally in front of me, he took a little engine out of his lawnmower and put it on the kites that we had on our back so that we could fly around. But anyway, one time I had traveled up there, couldn't fly, came back, and I came home. I was complaining to my father and my father said, why don't you just learn how to fly an airplane? And I said, oh, my God, what a good idea. So, I didn't even think of it myself, but I called right then and there and the next day started flying. I was around 20, something like that. I used to get a lot of bruises hang gliding. I used to crash into trees and stuff. But, I think I learned how to land airplanes because of all the crashing in the hang glider.

S.W

What do you do outside of flying?

C.P.

Oh, I own a little glass business that my parents started actually 70 years ago. We do shower doors and storefronts and mirrors and things like that. It's not real exciting, but it's a business.

S.W

What do you do at the JAC now and in the past?

C.P.

I was the president. I was the vice president first. Then I became the president. I was on the board for I don't know how long, it was fun, it was interesting. I was the chief instructor, for about one year, and that was great and challenging. I was the Vortex editor like you for several years. And I'm currently Chair of the Membership committee.

S.W

You've seen every sort of aspect-- every nook and cranny of the JAC, as an organization.

C.P.

I've seen it, you know, change over the years and stay the same in a lot of ways. It's always been run pretty much the same by a group of people that really, truly love to fly. That's really why I think I stay.

S.W

I also think your history of volunteer involvement and participation in the club is exemplary to other members, and especially to other female pilots.

C.P.

Thank you, but I'd add that to other women in aviation I'd say: pursue what you want, I mean, it's the same as in life, you have to be confident and be aware that you can do it. You have every right to to fly or do anything in life that any man does. It's 2021.

S.W

Finally, what planes do you like to fly out of the club, and if you could add any plane to the club roster, which would it be?

C.P.

Well, I like to fly the Mooney the most, I don't fly it as much as I would like. I've really taken a liking to the Cessna, and I never really would consider myself a Cessna person, but I really like it. It would be fun to have something acrobatic. But that'll never happen. (laughing) Maybe a Cirrus?


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