UT freshman and fourth-generation pilot flies airplanes as a hobby

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Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

When exams are over, most college students head downtown to dance, drink and forget about schoolwork. But when biomedical engineering freshman Ryan Dube wants to get away from school, he takes to the skies.

Dube is the youngest of a four-generation lineage of pilots. For Dube, flying planes is not just a hobby — it’s also a family legacy. 

“Our family has been flying practically since planes were invented,” Dube said. “My great-grandfather flew for the French during World War I before air combat had become common.”

Dube’s father flew planes while he was growing up but had to abandon the hobby after college because he could no longer afford to rent airplanes. However, the younger Dube had always been interested in flying planes, and he wanted to preserve the family tradition. When Dube turned 15 and was able to take piloting classes, his father joined him in renewing the family passion.

 “We both learned to fly together, which was a pretty cool thing to share.” Dube said. 

“After my dad got back into flying, he spent months looking for the perfect airplane to buy. We both fly that plane now.” 

Although Dube started piloting planes because of his family’s tradition, he continues to fly planes simply because he enjoys the thrill of the experience. During the school year, Dube heads out to the airport every other weekend to fly.

“You get this rush that you really don’t get with driving,” Dube said. “There’s no limitations on where you can go. Last summer, I got to fly my family around Maui and the other Hawaiian islands.”

Dube went through a lengthy certification process to fly airplanes solo. In addition to the basics of piloting planes, he had to study physics and aeronautical engineering.

“You have to know how that [airplane’s] engine works because it’s not like a car — you can’t just pull over while you’re in the air if you get into trouble,” Dube said. “And you’ve got to be a meteorologist, too, so that you don’t go flying into storms.”

Dube enjoys both the freedom and the responsibility that his pilot’s license gives him.

“I’ve done plenty of flights where I don’t even know where I’m going to end up,” Dube said. “I like having that freedom. But I also like being able to take my mom on business trips or take my friends to the San Antonio River Walk for the day.”

One of Dube’s favorite aspects of flying is sharing the experience with other people. When Dube took his friend, biomedical engineering sophomore Peter Kenny, on one of his plane flights, it was the first time that Kenny had ever flown. 

“My first thought was, ‘This thing can fly?’” Kenny said. “It was a small plane, and only one or two people were needed to push it. But I trusted Dube completely, though. He has this deep calm about him.”

Although Dube does not plan to pursue flying planes professionally, he said he values the responsibility and the flexible thinking that piloting airplanes taught him. 

“I would recommend flying to everyone,” Dube said. “Once you’re a pilot, you’re a pilot for life.”