Giulia Telli (‘24) takes first flight as pilot-in-training


Giulia Telli

Giulia Telli (’24) grins into the camera flying up high.

Erika Yan, Staff Writer

From the moment a plane leaves the runway, pilots work to ensure their passengers have a safe flight until they’re back on ground. Competence in this job is particularly crucial as hundreds of lives depend directly on the commander of the aircraft. That might sound daunting, but for freshman Giulia Telli (‘24) is training to be one of them and fly in the skies.

Telli (24) developed an interest in flying about two years ago when she was researching the Air Force Academy for possible colleges.

“I found out about a program called Civil Air Patrol, a sort of auxiliary to the Air Force, which promised to help with getting into the academy. Once I was in CAP I discovered that they did offer some flight courses as a way to help people get into the AFA, and I [got accepted into one of them]” said Giulia Telli (‘24).

Quarantine shut down a lot of extracurricular activities, but Telli (24) was still able to begin flying during quarantine. 

“However, it has taken a while for the pandemic to die down enough for us to start. I was accepted into the program in mid-2020 but wasn’t able to start till 2021. And of course, we have to wear masks, which can be a bit of a hassle since we have to talk into a microphone in order to hear each other and communicate with the ground,” said Giulia Telli (‘24).

To get a license, there are written and spoken exams, in addition to a practical flying exam. This means prospective pilots are required to study outside of flying lessons. However, the technical questions on pencil and paper remain incomparable to the actual experience of flying.

“The best way to learn how to fly is to fly. There really is nothing to know before getting into the plane, and during the first lesson I was already in the ‘pilot’s seat.’ Although of course, my instructor took over if he felt like I was going to crash the airplane,” said Giulia Telli (‘24).

One of the important milestones in training for a pilot is landing their first solo flight. An agent from the Federal Aviation Association needs to come out, and for most introductory flight schools, it’s the highlight of their programs.

“My favorite part of flying is, funnily enough, the landing. Not because I love the ground but because landing really is where you get the most action in terms of the actual piloting portion. Although I haven’t landed by myself yet, just observed,” said Giulia Telli (‘24).

There are many potential careers that open up for someone with a pilot’s license, and of course, many perks as well.

“As mentioned, I’m hoping a piloting license will help me get into the Air Force Academy and maybe even a real position as a military pilot. Additionally, I’d love to one day rent out a plane so I can take my friends for a joy ride,” said Giulia Telli (‘24).