From Remote Control to Fixed-Wing: Wayne Hankins of Pacific Flight Aviation
Meet Wayne Hankins, Founder and Chief Pilot of Pacific Flight Aviation. With decades of flying experience under his belt, he now shares his passion for aviation with flight students while working close to his family. After a career as a CTO, he transitioned to teaching full-time. With an office overlooking sunny Newport and Laguna Coast, Wayne definitely has the best views of Orange County.
How long have you been a pilot?
I have been a pilot since 1986. I started taking flying lessons when I was 18 at the Riverside Airport.
What inspired you to become a pilot?
I’ve been around aviation since I was a kid. My grandfather was a glider pilot in World War II. My father flew remote control gliders with my grandfather. I’ve just been around aviation forever. There were always airplane books and magazines and talks about aircraft. I lived next to the Corona Airport most of my life. I’ve always had a passion for aviation. When I became a teenager, I started building remote control gliders and flying them on my own while I was learning to fly real airplanes. I always knew I’d learn how to fly.
Is your job fun?
My job is amazing. To do what you love to do and to teach other people how to do things that you love to do is an amazing experience. It’s not even work. My recommendation is to find a passion in life and make a career out of it.
How often do you fly?
I fly a minimum of four days a week. Most of my flight time right now is just teaching. I do make it a point to go up and do my own personal flying. I have a lot of friends who are pilots. We take each other up and keep each other current. I probably fly about 10 hours a month just for myself.
Where is your favorite place to fly?
My favorite airport, mostly because of the route, is Santa Barbara. You can fly up the valley or up the coastline. When you depart out of Santa Barbara Airport, you fly right over the ocean just as you’re lifting off.
What are you certified with?
I can fly any single or multi-engine airplane. I have all the licenses necessary to fly fixed-wing aircraft. I also have a license to teach people how to fly in both instrument and visual conditions.
Why did you choose the Piper Archer III to teach with?
Any airplane is good to learn to fly in. I just happen to prefer Pipers. I learned to fly in them myself; I have a lot of hours in them. They’re a great training platform, they're easy to maintain and they’re cost-effective.
What’s the best part of being a pilot?
It allows me to let go of everything else in life and just kind of enjoy the moment, to be able to experience something that most people don’t have the opportunity to experience, to be able to go somewhere whenever I want to. It’s a pretty technical and advanced skill. I think it’s one of the most amazing things in life, next to my family.
What advice can you give to people who are considering earning their flight credentials?
Make sure you choose a flight instructor who has some level of passion for what they’re doing. Commit to it and devote the time to it.
This year will be packed with awesome new updates for Pacific Flight Aviation, including the addition of a flight simulator and two more fixed-wing aircraft! There is no better time to learn to fly.