By Celine Tien, Contributing Writer
Evan Isenstein-Brand is a 12-year old Californian who is an aviation enthusiast. When he is not at air shows or interviewing people for his own website (evanflys.com), he is a normal 7th grader, playing tennis, soccer and hanging out with his friends. Evan has interviewed some of the best war-time pilots and has flown many adventures in a wide variety of planes. Let’s explore how Evan’s adventuresome life came about and how he intends on pursuing his passion for flying.
AK: At what age did you discover you had this passion for flying and aviation?
EB: When I was 8 years old I experienced the amazing EAA Young Eagles program at San Carlos Airport. Kids ages 8 – 17 get to go up in planes for free! By then my dad and I were taking pictures at air shows and we thought: Why not store our pictures on a website? And that’s how it all began.
AK: Is there one specific incident that made you realize you wanted to take your adventures into the sky?
EB: On my third flight wit the Young Eagles, I got to go for a ride in a bright yellow, two–seat open cockpit biplane called a Fleet 16B. The sensation of having all the fresh air blowing all around me, and the incredible view was unforgettable. Then, the pilot asked me if I wanted to take the controls and fly the plane. It was amazing! The power and the maneuverability were intoxicating.
AK: Flying can sometimes be a risky activity, how did you convince your parents to let you fly? Or are they lovers of aviation as well?
EB: My parents are not aviators, but my dad shares my passion of flying. He’s very careful about whom I get to fly with, and that their plane is safe. Also, flying in a small plane is very safe anyways.
AK: On your website you have an impressive log of the hours you’ve spent in a plane both as co-pilot and passenger; did you have to go through training before stepping aboard as a co-pilot? If so, what kind?
EB: No, I did not have to go through training. Being a co-pilot on the flights that I’ve been on means that you basically sit next to the pilot riding shotgun, and taking the controls, but they are still the pilot in command.
AK: In your logbook you remarked that you had done pretty adventurous stuff like ‘aerobatics’ and ‘photo-mission’. What did you do and how was it?
EB: When I go up for aerobatic rides, I hold on and enjoy the ride. It is always really fun and 100 times better than any roller coaster!
Once, when I went up with my friend Spencer Suderman, I ate too many Jelly Belly jellybeans before I went up for the aerobatic plane ride. I was being sneaky about it because my dad didn’t want me to eat them, so I must have eaten about 20 of those little packs of jellybeans. As soon as we took off, I realized that I had made a mistake but fortunately I didn’t get sick. Next time I know not to eat jellybeans before I do aerobatics!
When I go on photo missions, we take pictures of properties for my friend from the air, and also do air to air photography of other airplanes. My favorite photo mission was when I got to fly in the tail gunner’s position of a WWII B-25 bomber taking pictures of my friends in their P-51 Mustangs and Russian YAK fighters while they’re flying alongside us.
AK: You’ve interviewed quite a lot of experienced pilots, veterans of war, and all kinds of other people related to aviation, how did you meet these people?
EB: Most of the time I find out about one person who I then interviewed, and that person tells me about another person who I interview, and then they tell me about another person, and so on and so on. It ‘s kind of a chain reaction. I also have met, interviewed, and made friends with a lot of people at air shows, and they tell me about their friends.
AK: Was there one person you interviewed whom you especially connected with, or inspired you?
EB: Yes. Bill Getz was a WWII bomber and fighter pilot. Like me, he fell in love with aviation when he was about 8 years old. When he was old enough he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Bill flew an entire tour of duty as a bomber pilot over Germany and then he volunteered for the Scouting Force and flew another tour in a P-51 Mustang fighter over Germany. Bill and his wife Vicki have been incredibly nice to my dad and I, and Bill has inspired me greatly.
AK: Do you have one person, or mentor in your life who has inspired or guided you?
EB: My good friend Eddie Andreini, who has been an air show performer for over 46 years, has been a great mentor to me. He’s given great advice and provided lots of hands-on experience learning how to work on and fly airplanes.
AK: Do you have any goals or dreams for your future?
EB: I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up right now, but maybe I could restore, fly, and maintain warbirds like Steve Hinton at the Planes of Fame Air Museum; or be an aeronautical engineer and design cutting edge fighters; and maybe be a journalist on the weekends. I’d like to fly fighters for the US Air Force but I am a little color blind so I can’t do that. I can still be a pilot, just not for the military.
AK: What would you say to kids who, like you, want to pursue their dreams of aviation and adventure into the world of flying?
EB: Go to the EAA Young Eagles website (http://www.youngeagles.org/programs/) and inquire about a Young Eagles program near you. Be sure to go there. Also, go to lots of aviation museums and air shows, and talk to the pilots. Pilots are great people and they really love to share their love of aviation.
To read one of Evan’s stories about flying with a war-time aviator, click the button below.Time Travel
To see Evan’s website, visit www.evanflys.com.