Alex Silvestri was just 17 years old when he got his pilot’s license. After convincing his mom and dad to let him take flying lessons at Sound Aircraft Flight Enterprises at East Hampton Airport, Silvestri trained under Peter Boody and got his license at the youngest legal age possible in New York State. Silvestri, now a student at Haverford College, talks about his love of flight, how he wants to use his gift of flight for good and more.
Talk about how you got started flying.
I started flying there when I was 15 and got my license at 17, and did all my flight training with Peter Boody. I absolutely loved it, it was something I wanted to do for a while. I was kind of waiting around to be old enough to start and when I finally was, I was super-excited and got into it as early as I could.
Why did you want to become a pilot?
It’s always an interesting question because truthfully, I could never pinpoint it exactly. It’s something to do with the idea I’ve kind of all loved it to a certain extent and at some point I realized I could actually do it. It was an interesting realization—oh, I can actually be a pilot and not just dream of it. That was probably early in middle school when I started to kind of get interested in doing research into how I could do it. Convincing my parents was a process in itself.
How did you convince your parents to let you fly?
There were a lot of presentations about why it was safe! Once they were fully on-board with it, it was very exciting.
Why did you and your parents choose East Hampton Airport?
Probably because it was the most convenient for us. We live in New York City and it’s hard to find anything convenient to the city. We were out in the Hamptons a good deal of time, summers, weekends, all throughout the year, really. It was better than doing it from an airport from the city.
What are some unique challenges a pilot faces?
I think the act of flying an airplane and being a pilot goes far beyond what people think the role really is. The act of keeping an airplane in the air when you’re flying around is not the hard part. There’s a lot more that goes into decision making and contingency planning and emergency preparation that is a little less obvious. That’s the difficult part. The actual cruising along is not that hard. It’s the whole process of having to be able to plan everything and understand what’s going on with the physical side of things.
What airplanes did you fly at East Hampton Airport?
They were more lateral movements. I’ve flown three airplanes—two were Cessna 172s and one was a Piper and all three were similar but different. They’re all small, four-seat, single-engine airplanes.
Do you want to fly commercially?
I don’t think I want to be a commercial pilot, I’m studying physics right now. I think I want to continue flying for most of my life. I want to find a good use for my pilot’s license, if that makes sense—whether it be volunteer work or commercially, but I don’t think I want to fly commercially.
Why do you think East Hampton Airport is important to the community?
From one perspective, it does provide another means of transportation to enter the community, and with the flight school, it provides people within the community the opportunity to book a flying lesson to see what it’s like. It’s a great activity.
Why do you love to fly?
It’s nothing specific but once I’m up in the air, the busy part of the flight has been completed, we’re all set up for the cruise, I get a second to look around me and see how incredible it is to be up in the air and look down at everything beneath us.