Matt Sharkey Advances in the World of Aviation

By Chris Stem, Broadcast Manager

    Senior Matt Sharkey is obtaining his private pilot’s license with plans to orient his career and future around aviation.


Q: How long have you been interested in flight?

A: “Probably since the moment I was born. Specifically, I can think back to a couple memories back to the summer when I was in around second or third grade my and parents took me to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It was close to the one-hundredth year anniversary of flight, the flight of the Wright brothers and the Wright flier. It was just a very memorable experience for me, seeing where flight was first born. That same year we went to an airshow at Edwards Air Force Base where I saw the Blue Angels perform, amongst several other aerobatic groups and individuals, and going from seeing about the Wright brothers seeing the Blue Angels in the same year, the dream of flight, and the goal of flight, just got seared into my head from thereforth.”


Q: How long have you been flying for?

A: “Since I’ve started flight training, a little less than a year now.”

Sharkey frequently flies out of two places, Lancaster Airport and Shoestring Aviation Airfield, an airfield in Shrewsbury.

Q: What initial steps did you take?

A: “Well my first steps in learning weren’t exactly the first steps that everyone takes. The first steps that somebody would take, if they’re interested in flying, would be to go for a discovery flight, after that, if they’re still interested, they can continue to learn. I’ll explain what a discovery flight is; basically you go up with an instructor they let you take the controls a little bit and after that after 30 or so minutes, you go back down and they’re like ‘What did you think?’  and you’re like ‘Thats the coolest thing I’ve ever done!’What I did is, since I’ve been interested in aviation my whole life and on-and-off like throughout my childhood, I would fly flight simulators until the summer before I started my flight lessons. During that summer, I was flying simulators all the time. So, for me getting into it, it started from me doing a lot of research in flying and simulators, and then I went for my first discovery flight which turned out to really just be my first lesson.”


Q: How have you improved since you started?

A: When I started out, I had a general idea of what to do from my simulators, but the actual flow and the actual feel of the real airplane was so much different. When I first started, my instructor would let me manage the takeoffs, and then he, for the first couple of lessons, wouldn’t even let me … be near the controls when it came to landings. Now, I can fly the plane completely solo, distances from one point to another of fifteen nautical miles.”  

View out of Sharkey’s cockpit during a flight.

Q: What unique life experiences has this brought you?

Q: “Aviation has given me a chance to see the world from a different perspective and not just in just the literal physical sense of ‘oh he’s looking down at the ground’ but in a sense of experience the bounds of freedom that aviation has to offer, because when I go up there and I fly and, especially when I fly alone, it’s just a freedom from really anything in your life that might be a struggle or a trial, because you’re not even hindered by gravity anymore when you’re up there; it’s a freedom, its very liberating.”  


Q: Would you say flying has changed your life?

A: “Flying has definitely changed my life, its given a sense of accomplishment and also a sense of encouragement that I can achieve the things that I always have wanted to achieve … when I was younger I always wanted to be a pilot, but I became discouraged from that goal at some point between middle school and my sophomore year, because during that time I didn’t really believe in myself. So by actually pursuing aviation and being on the edge of having a private pilot’s license, it’s made me realize that I’ve got a lot of control over my world, and I’ve got the power to change my life, and really everybody has that power.”  

Sharkey smiles while piloting a flight. 

Q: Does flying impact your future career plans, if so what are they?

A: “Yes, flying does impact my future career plans because right now my plan for my life is going to be attending the United States Air Force or Naval Academy. Really the goal is to fly for the Airforce or the Navy either by attending in the academy’s or by participating in an ROTC program, and after that I’m going to be applying to NASA and SpaceX and Boeing now too. My plans are to be an astronaut and specifically to be the first man on Mars.”

Q: What is the process of obtaining a pilot’s licence, and do you have one?

A: The process to obtaining a private, pilot’s license- well there’s multiple types of licenses first of all. You can just get a sport pilot’s license, a recreational pilot’s license and a private pilot’s license, but the private pilots license is like your golden ticket in terms of advancing into the world of aviation. Basically you build up hours with an instructor, pass a written test, and then fly with an examiner.”  


Q: Is there anything you would like to add?  

A: “Anybody out there can live their dreams to the fullest that they want to. Every single person has the power within them, but in order to do so, you need to have a vision of what you want to do. And if your vision isn’t clear at the start, you just need to come up with something and you can build upon it, because who you are is defined by what you do, so if you want to be something else or somebody else, you have to do different things in order to be that person. So really what I want to say is you can live your greatest dreams you just have to try and not give up.”