Soaring in the Skies: Tim Lester (’22) flies planes as a qualified pilot


Alycia Moreno

Tim Lester (’22) leans on the side of a Cessna plane.

From a young age, flying came as a passion; it wasn’t until he was sixteen that Tim Lester (’22) was able to turn the passion into reality. With the help of many coaches and instructors Lester worked to get his pilot’s license in May of 2021. 

My flight instructors were great role models and so they were very helpful and they were able to teach me a lot while also having a really fun time flying the plane as well,” said Lester.

Through the last three years in a global pandemic, online schooling helped Lester achieve his dream and earn his certificate sooner than he would have in normal circumstances. Half days of school allowed for more opportunities in the process of his flight training.

The process is an extended version of how students get their driver’s licenses; at least 40 hours of flying are needed to take 3 different tests totaling over 5 hours. Lester completed a written exam, an oral exam, and a flight exam. Lester flew with a designated pilot examiner demonstrating numerous skills and maneuvers. After receiving his license Lester continues pushing himself to become a better pilot with always something new to learn.

Lester took this photo of a skyline during a night flight over San Jose. (Tim Lester)

“I do wanna get a job as a pilot as my career, people ask me all the time like what I want to do…I don’t know. I know I want to be a pilot, I don’t know what kind of plane I want to fly or who I want to fly for, I’m still kind of figuring that out. But I definitely do want to be flying planes for my life,” said Lester. 

Lester faced challenges during his training and even after becoming a pilot. Though difficult, he looked forward to obstacles and found enjoyment in facing his problems head-on. After dark voyages, cross country endeavors, landing at different airports, and solo trips may have been difficult but Lester keeps going. 

“And that’s the great thing there’s never gonna be…like there’s always gonna be new challenges for you to explore and so that’s one thing I strive to do,” said Lester. 

Lester suggests to anyone interested in pursuing a similar path to join a flying club at a local airport. It can be difficult to know where to start but the community offers a variety of help and support when learning. There is always someone willing to offer assistance and guild people like Lester on the right path to achieving his dream.