2020, Honors College
Honors College student Amy Rose came to Mason with a clear direction—to study aviation, engineering, and geography and become a pilot.
But the junior never dreamed that having her private pilot’s license and being fluent in French would land her a spot in a prestigious event in France.
Rose, 20, was selected as the U.S. representative to the HOP! Tour des Jeunes Pilotes, a two-week, all-expense-paid summer program that gives young pilots a chance to participate in daily aviation competitions and demonstrations. She was one of 45 pilots in the bi-annual event, sponsored by several associations and France’s aeronautic federation.
“I would rather have participated in this program than won the lottery because the experience was priceless,” says Rose, a geography major who earned her pilot’s license through Mason Engineering’s aviation flight training and management minor. She’s also minoring in Systems Engineering and Operations Research (SEOR) and has an internship working as an explainer at the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, a branch location of of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
During the summer aviation program, she captured first place in a precision flying event, which measured altitude, speed, flight path, and other factors. “They put transponders inside the cockpit, and they logged everything,” she says. “We made flight plans, and they compared our track with what we initially planned.”
One of the biggest challenges was flying an aerobatic aircraft for the first time with help from a special instructor. “It’s very different from a regular plane because it has more capabilities. I was sitting in a tiny little plane wearing a parachute.”
Another first was flying that plane upside down. “I was so nervous before that flight, but it was amazing.”
It wasn’t easy to fly in a different country in an unfamiliar plane while speaking a second language, but the experience was worth it.
“My horizons just completely opened up having seen how aviation works in a foreign country, where their licensing is top tier,” says Rose, who speaks five languages. She grew up speaking English and Hebrew at home, learned Spanish in high school, taught herself French and Portuguese, and is studying Chinese now.
Rose, trained by Aviation Adventures in Manassas, is laser-focused on aviation. She co-founded Mason’s Aerospace Engineering Club, and she explains how planes and rockets work at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.
She’d like to fly for NASA or a major airline and is considering becoming a linguist or interpreter.
SEOR Associate Professor Lance Sherry, director of the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research, says the aviation minor gives students a significant competitive advantage when pursuing employment with airlines, airports, and air traffic control. “Students gain practical skills to get a pilot’s license, as well as experience a diversified curriculum from aerodynamics to weather to human decision-making.”
Rose says having a pilot’s license is already opening many doors, including internships and future jobs. “I wouldn’t be the pilot I am today without Mason.”