Jacob Greer flew a plane solo for the first time Nov. 7, 2019.

Early this month, one day past the two-year mark of that first solo flight, he received his commercial pilot’s license and moved one step closer to his goal of making flying a career.

Greer, a 2015 St. Maries High School graduate, said he has wanted to be a pilot since he was young, and got started working at an airport in Lewiston unloading freight and fueling up planes.

In his time working there, Greer talked with pilots about how best to go about getting his needed certifications, where he was directed to Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash.

“There were a lot of really nice guys that would just sit there and talk with me, because I wanted to go into that field, and they love talking about aviation. That’s where I learned about Big Bend. They have a flight school.”

But his goal of flying began much earlier than two years ago.

“When we were younger the church that I went to, the Nazarene, every month they’d have a pilot that they’d let the kids go up with and fly, so that kind of really got me kick started with aviation, and then ever since then I wanted to fly.”

Following graduation, Greer attended Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston before working at an airport in Lewiston.

“I talked with some pilots and they said ‘go to flight school now,’ because there was a need for pilots. So I quit LCSC, worked there at an airport for about a year, and then actually went down to Salt Lake City first, and joined a flight school down there.”

Greer’s time in Utah was short-lived, as he was the program’s lone enrollee.

“About a week after I moved down there they told me they weren’t doing the program anymore, so I moved back up here and toured Big Bend.”

Greer started at Big Bend Community College in 2019 and completed commercial certification early this month.

Involved in the process was 230 hours of flight-time, along with in-person class sessions – and for a four-month stretch – classes via Zoom.

“That was rough,” Greer said of virtual classes. “I learn a lot better in person, and especially with the material we have to go over, lots of graphs and things you have to know, it’s hard to really grasp in from online, but I got through it.”

Included in his 230 hours of flying were more than a few memorable flights for Greer, but perhaps the most noteworthy was a solo flight routed from Moses Lake to Lewiston, Pullman and back to Moses Lake.

“About ten minutes after I left Pullman I had a complete electrical failure,” Greer said. “Everything went black. I couldn’t talk to anybody, couldn’t see where I was going apart from looking at the ground. I followed I-90 back, and had to call the tower on my cell phone, talk to them while I was flying.”

The learning process is not finished for Greer yet, though. His aim is to fly an Air Tractor-802F, used in fighting fires.

“It’s like a really big crop duster,” Greer said. “They dump water on fires, that’s what I want to do.”

Greer plans to work in Moses Lake next spring loading crop dusters and getting acquainted with the planes with the hopes of flying them the following season.

“I’ll probably do that for a couple years to build time and hours, and then try to get on somewhere flying those 802’s. Most everything in the aviation field is hours, time requirements.”

The process is a long one, but as Greer said following his commercial certification, the possibilities are nearly endless as to how a pilot gets hours under his belt.

“There are a lot of things you can do,” he said. “You can go to Alaska and fly bush, emergency mail services, parachute operations, there’s a thing called bird chasing you can do in the mid-west where you fly really low to the ground and scare birds away from crops. But there are a lot of little things like that you can do.”

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