John Matthews, in addition to being an ultralight pilot, BFI (Basic Flight Instructor), and AFI (Advanced Flight Instructor) through both USUA and ASC, is also a FAA certified Private Pilot with over 2000 hours under his belt since 1977, and he is an accomplished skydiver with USPA (United States Parachute Association) having acquired USPA license # D-1775 some years ago! The following article should tell you a little about him.
(The following is from an article written by Ted Williams of Morning News Online.)
Ultralights offer flight without a license
John Matthews president of Carolina Ultralights stands in front of his ultralight plane.
GEORGETOWN - If you've ever dreamed of flying without a license, John Matthews can give you your chance.
Matthews, president of Carolina Ultralights, trains students in flying ultralight aircraft in Georgetown County. He also sells ultralights.
“I saw there was a need for instruction,” said Matthews, a former Timmonsville resident. “A lot of people were getting hurt in the early ’80s jumping in them because there is no license required and doing all the wrong things.
“I moved from Florence County a number of years ago, and to this great airport (in Georgetown) for instruction,” he said. “The people are great, and the visibility is great, so we blend in pretty well with general aviation traffic.”
Stephen Goerz, one of Matthews’ students, said he enjoys the rush of flying. “When you take off, and can look down at everything, it’s just peaceful to fly around like this. These planes go slow, so you can see relatively well - I mean you can see everything,” he said.
“This thing will go to 10,000 feet, but at 10,000 feet, you can’t enjoy the view as much. It’s just patches of stuff. When you get down low to the ground, you can see everything.”
Flying is a hobby for Goerz, who is an anesthesiologist at a Georgetown hospital and often flies after work.
“If I’m working all day, I’ve got an hour or two before the sun goes down. It’s 5-10 minutes away, so I can be in the air in a half hour, come back in, get some dinner,” he said. “It’s absolutely a blast.
“If you want to learn how to fly and don’t want to travel cross-country to get in the air, this is the way. It’s the least expensive way to do it and when you fly around in the air, you’re like a bird, and you can be done whenever you want.”
Even though the ultralights are not regulated the same way as airplanes, there are still precautions that must be taken.
“There’s a little more freedom of what you can do and what you can’t do. (There’s) no license required as far as a single-seat ultralight,” Matthews said. “However, that does not mean it’s not necessary to get any training. Training is a must.”
Matthews started flying in the early ’70s. He said he doesn’t need any other hobbies because he loves this one so much.
“I lived in Southern California for a number of years, and hang gliding was getting more popular,” he said. “I moved back to South Carolina where my family is, and ultralights came about, and that was the way to get into hang gliding without the mountains, so that’s how I got started.”
An ultralight aircraft looks similar to a normal plane, but there are many differences. “A true ultralight is a one-seater,” Matthews said. “Single-occupancy, fuel, five gallons, speed, 55 knots maximum, weight, 254 pounds max - unless you have a parachute and then you can add to that - and no license required.”
When first boarding an ultralight, one may wonder whether it will get off the ground. Ultralights are composed of mostly composites, Fiberglas, aircraft aluminum and sailcloth.
Liftoff is no problem, Matthews said.
“This is a 65-horse, duel carburetor, liquid-cooled, oil-injected, dual ignition, which means two plugs and two ignition coils per cylinder,” he said, explaining the source of the aircraft’s power.
“You can carry two 200-pound guys pretty easily,” Goerz said.
The ultralights also are equipped with parachutes in case of an emergency. Matthews said flying the aircraft has been proven to be safe.
Ultralights can fly just about anywhere. But because of heavy flight traffic in Myrtle Beach, Matthews said he thinks Georgetown is a better place for his business.
“It would be like putting a four-wheeler on I-95 or I-20. You’ve got a lot of heavy traffic because of the international airport,” he said. “Georgetown is a little more unrestricted, and visibility of the rivers and oceans is fantastic, and we enjoy it here.”
“You can fly anywhere from Pawleys Island to wherever and land anywhere on the water,” Goerz said.
Learning to fly can be done in just a few hours, Matthews said: “About 20 hours total - about 10 hours study and about 10 hours with an instructor minimum.”
Matthews said he probably has 50 to 100 introductory flights per year.
“It’s rewarding. It’s a nice feeling to teach someone something,” he said. “It’s frustrating at times, but it’s worth every minute of the frustration.”
Marcia Piatt, another one of Mathews’ students, has worked her way up to instructor status from her first flight with him. She said she was motivated to learn to fly after she saw Matthews take off one day.
“I said, ‘One day I’m going to learn to do that too,’” Piatt said. “It was a challenge for me.”
“If you get the mindset, you can do it, and it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “Now I don’t get up as much as I’d like to, but I will say don’t knock it until you try it because it’s fun.”
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