Flying high: A student’s lifelong passion for planes expanded in the classroom

Flying high: A student’s lifelong passion for planes expanded in the classroom

Photo Credits: OLIVIA KOTLAREK / AGGIE

Muhannad Mohammad finds passion for flight in and out of the classroom

While most students find themselves in their dorm rooms or apartments enjoying video games or other online entertainment, some students choose to participate in activities specific to  their career interests, academic interests or cultural interests as well as certain and sometimes obscure hobbies. These activities help students find a place in sme of the many distinct backgrounds that make up the large campus. By honing in on what they know and what is familiar to them, students find a more enjoyable college experience that is tailored to themselves.

Muhannad Mohammad, a second-year aerospace engineer major, enjoys flying planes in his free time. His interest in planes began when he was five, captivated by the flying objects he saw in the sky.

“Another thing that really got me into considering studying [flying] was my uncle,” Mohammad said. “He was always on these flight simulators back in the day, and one time I walked in and he showed me a few things. I was like, ‘I need to do this.’”

Mohammad began experimenting with his own flight simulators, gaining experience he would eventually need to fly planes himself. Upon entering high school, he had come to the decision that he wanted to dedicate his time to learning the intricacies behind flight.

“From then on, I started building a simulator at home and flying it,” Mohammad said. “Then I worked on getting my flight license.”

This license process is not the same as the typical driving test. Mohammad had to prove he could maneuver several different types of planes before being permitted to fly. His instructor created specific situations for him to handle safely. Mastering landings was an additional challenge, but hours of practice and learning helped Mohammad achieve his goal. With the necessary tools in hand, he was ready to fly his own plane, something he was eager to do.

“The first time flying, I was nervous,” Mohammad said. “It was the best feeling in the world. After [flying simulations] for so long and then getting into the real thing, it was crazy. It felt like pure peace. I was in the moment; nothing else mattered, and I was just doing it.”

Since amassing nearly 900 hours of training, Mohammad has flown over 30 times in California. While the butterflies may have been present in his stomach the first few times, now flying has become somewhat of second nature for Mohammad.

“From the first flight to the last, it becomes almost like driving a car,” Mohammad said. “Of course you’re following a lot of things, like checklists and procedures, but it becomes so much easier. It’s like a normal thing: you get in, do this, do that and you’re flying. You don’t want to lose yourself in that, though. If you do, you can mess up and actually hurt yourself and people with you, so it’s not a joke.”

Here at UC Davis, Mohammad has enjoyed the aerospace engineering major and gained much more valuable knowledge about how planes fly and interact with other elements.

“When I was doing my flying course, I had some knowledge of ideas like lift, but looking at the math behind it and the intricacies of how things worked, that was definitely something I learned through courses here,” Mohammad said. “It’s crazy because, when you fly with this knowledge, you start to trust things even more. You know the science. It changed my whole view on flying.”

With a few more years of schooling left, Mohammad remains committed to learning everything he can about flying. Currently he wishes to obtain an Air Transport pilot license to fly other aircrafts, such as jets. His other goals involve his great admiration for the aerospace engineering field.

“I want to work with other aerospace engineers and really on the space side of things,” Mohammad said. “I want to take my flight experience into something like a space agency and fly research airplanes. I would also like use my engineering experience to work as an engineer for one of those companies. Hopefully, I want to one day build my way up to become an astronaut.”

Written By: Vincent Sanchez — features@theaggie.org