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Sarah Powell Logged 54.6 Flight Hours in 26 Days

Georgetown University pre-med student Sarah Powell had her eyes on becoming a pilot ever since she was a child, but didn’t have the time to pursue her dream until the coronavirus pandemic shut down classes in June. A forced break from making in-person medical rounds allowed Powell to relocate to Anchorage, Alaska, for a month and achieve her dream.

While some college students welcomed the summer with time away from their books, Powell instead went full tilt into flight training mode, cramming 54.6 flight hours into only 26 days. Most flight students need between 60 and 80 hours to earn the private pilot certificate.

The medical student is familiar with the grind of long hours and relentless studying, so she mentally prepared herself for a flight training marathon and credited boyfriend and bush pilot Chris Rush for mentoring her and answering questions that invariably arose from the onrush of tackling so many flight training procedures in such little time.

Powell learned in a full-bore bushplane. The Piper PA–18 Super Cub has a 160-horsepower engine with 35-inch bush wheels, extended gear, big shocks, and a VFR panel augmented with a Garmin G5.

Since it remains daylight until the wee hours of the morning during Alaska summers, night flight hours are nearly impossible to log, and Powell’s certificate comes with some restrictions. The 24-year-old can only fly daytime VFR until she completes night cross country requirements and plans are in the works to accomplish that soon by attending a Maryland or Virginia flight school.

Read more about Sarah Powell went from an east coast med student to Alaska pilot in 4 weeks.