Solo Flight School providing free pilot training to stranded Indian student

Aneesh Mullacheri traveled halfway around the world only to watch his dream of becoming an American commercial pilot became a nightmare. Solo Flight School in Lakeport is helping him get back in the air with free private pilot training. (Tiffany Revelle)
Aneesh Mullacheri traveled halfway around the world only to watch his dream of becoming an American commercial pilot became a nightmare. Solo Flight School in Lakeport is helping him get back in the air with free private pilot training. (Tiffany Revelle)

By Tiffany Revelle —

LAKE COUNTY, CA – To call Aneesh Mullacheri determined is an understatement. He traveled halfway around the world only to watch his dream of becoming an American commercial pilot became a nightmare. But he hasn’t given up.

A six-month time limit on his visa is ticking while he eats and sleeps less than 100 yards from the small aircraft he will fly in Santa Rosa this weekend for the last leg of his private pilot licensing exam. His flight school American School of Aviation in Atwater, CA folded in July, taking the $40,000 he’d paid upfront and leaving him stranded. Solo Flight School in Lakeport is helping him get back in the air with free private pilot training.

“I know something good is going to happen,” Mullacheri said, a sparkle in his brown eyes.

In the same breath, Mullacheri acknowledged that flying days are over if he has to go back to India when his visa expires in February. He landed in San Francisco on his 18th birthday, ready to start commercial pilot training at the American School of Aviation in Atwater.

Mullacheri had $400 to his name and nowhere to live when the school declared bankruptcy. He called home for help – but not to his family.

“I didn’t want to give my grandfather another heart attack,” Mullacheri said.

Solo Flight School Co-owner Nancy Brier and her family took Mullacheri under their collective wing in October when they learned of his plight. The family’s already thin budget can only bear the cost of his private pilot license training, which is the first step to a commercial pilot license, which in turn is a stepping-stone to becoming a test pilot and ultimately an astronaut.

“My goal would be to at least help him get his commercial license,” Brier said.

She said the money is coming out of her family’s personal account, on top of providing transportation, living quarters and personal support. The family felt compelled, she said, not just by his circumstances, but also by his spirit.

Mullacheri said he felt responsible for his grandfather’s first heart attack during his eight-month struggle to get his visa and scrape together enough money for the flight school. His grandfather had been his only supporter at home, and had loaned him the money he still needed after selling approximately two acres of farming land he had inherited from his mother for approximately $25,000.

On top of selling everything he owned, Mullacheri broke centuries-old social traditions in his homeland of India by daring to follow that dream. His grandparents raised him after his mother died and his father dropped out of his life when he was four years old.

His career choices were down to a literal coin toss between the engineering and medical professions, with his peers and his grandparents tossing the coin. Mullacheri wanted more.

“They never ask what is your interest, what do you want to be? That is what I saw here, they are really optimists (here). But in my place, no. Maybe one in a thousand will be an optimist. All the others say, ‘Never dream big things,'” Mullacheri said.

Flight instructor Vernon Childers has walked Mullacheri through almost a month and a half of private pilot lessons, and said he “could use 20 more just like him” who have his determination and work ethic. Childers said Mullacheri passed the oral part of his exam in 30 minutes, a process that can take hours.

To learn more about Mullacheri’s circumstances or to help, call the Solo Flight School at 263-9920.

Contact Tiffany Revelle at, or call her directly at 263-5636 ext. 37.


Bangkok Airport Seige helpline numbers

airport_seige1The siege imposed by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators on Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport since Tuesday night caused at least 50 million Thai Baht of damage, excluding airport and landing fees.
So far, Thai AirAsia cancelled 17 domestic flights and 11 international flights from 6am to 2pm. Passengers can call Thai AirAsia’s hotline service at 02-515-9999.
Bangkok Airways called off 24 domestic and international flights before afternoon. Passengers can contact the airline at 02-265-8777 or 1771.
Thai Airways International announced that its flights heading to Suvarnabhumi will be diverted to Don Mueang airport or U-Tapao airport. People can call the airline’s call center at 02-356-1111.

Chinese student pilot killed in propeller accident at Castle Airport

flight_log_bookA 26-year-old Chinese student pilot of Sierra Flight School at Castle Air Force Base was killed on Saturday when he ran into the spinning propeller of his Cessna 150 airplane.

The whirring propeller struck him in the head which caused his death immediately.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department said the student pilot, was from China. Sherrif further revealed that victim flew only with a second student, which violated Federal Aviation Administration regulations requiring an adult flight instructor to accompany a student, the sheriff’s department said.

A group picture of student pilots of Sierra Flight School
A group picture of student pilots of Sierra Flight School

Sierra Flight School is known for large community of foreign student pilots of which majority comes from China. This accident shocked the students & staff at the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics. The chief pilot says this is the first ground-based fatality in the school’s 44 year history. And authorities say it could have been avoided.

Tom MacKenzie from the Merced Co. Sheriff’s Dept. said the students flew together to Visalia, then switched seats in the dual-control, two-seat plane. “Both of them were certified to fly solo or with an instructor, but they’re not allowed to be together. The duo’s decision to fly together may have contributed to the student’s death.

When they landed at Castle Air Force Base, they spotted a fuel truck and believed the driver would report them to the flight school if they spotted him. The passenger, who had been in the primary pilot seat, took off on foot while the victim got out of the co-pilot seat and came around the front of the plane. Deputies believe that while the student was attempting to get back into the pilot seat he “misjudged the distance” and was struck in the head by the propeller.

The two students’ names were not released while authorities sought to contact the Chinese Consulate and, through it, their parents.

While contacted, Jim Murray of the Federal Aviation Administration said affirmed that a student pilot is not allowed to carry a passenger.

Using your digital camera & laptop to turn your travel into digital holidays

panasonicYou’ve spent your hard-earned money on that cool new digital camera. You are traveling in a strange city, hoping to get great pictures for your photo album. Be sure you return home with the camera, and those pictures, intact. But we do have one more suggestion for you. Carrying your laptop along with your Digital cameras can turn your journey into a whole new digital experience!

Digital Cameras are great devices that have made travel photography simple and enjoyable to countless people. They make taking and sharing photos easier and more economical than film could ever do, but using a digital camera while traveling may not be optimized as-is straight from the retail packaging. It needs to be accessorized. Digital cameras are great devices that make taking and sharing photographs faster, and, let’s face it, cheaper than ever before. Although they may be great on their own, a few key accessories can make them even more convenient, practical, and enjoyable to use.

Most cameras are sold with either a removable flash memory card included, or an onboard memory chip, for laptopstoring the images the camera takes. If you are not carrying the flash memory along than there is no need to panick. You can buy it anywhere in the world whether its a remote village in Rajasthan (India) or post suburbs of Genting Highlands (Malaysia). The problem is that the included memory may not be the best for many practical uses, and will need to be upgraded by the end user immediately. The memory provided with many cameras generally is of too low a capacity, and the performance of the modules may not be the best either.

A camera taking images at the high resolutions possible today is going to chew up space on a flash card quickly, and the typical 16MB or 32MB card provided by the manufacturer just isn’t going to cut it. I recently purchased a high-quality 3.2 Megapixel (MP) camera that came with a 16MB Compact Flash card. I was somewhat surprised to see that I would only be able take 9 pictures at maximum resolution before the card was full, and wondered why the manufacturer bothered to include a memory card at all. The first step to making the camera more usable was to upgrade to a 512MB Compact Flash card that upped the total storage to 299 images while at the highest resolution.

Carrying your laptop along while traveling is very useful as in case of limited flash memory in your digital camera can ruin your holidays. You’ll not be able to click all the pictures you wanted to record. Even some of the travelers usually decrease the resolution of pictures so that they can click more pictures and end up loosing size, real colors and quality of the moment captured. After a hectic day one can sit back in the comfort of their hotel room and look at the precious moments captured and transfer those images to their laptop and refresh the camera for the next day. For extra safety, these pictures than can be stored in a remote server or an email account so that in case of any kind of damage to your laptop or theft will not ruin the graphic recordings of your holidays.

Hawaiian tourist officials are hoping that Obama takes more holidays in his birthplace

obama_t-shirtHawaiian tourist officials are hoping that Obama takes more holidays in his birthplace. Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961, and after a spell in Indonesia, lived in Hawaii with his maternal grandmother.

Already, stalls in Hawaii – which Obama frequently visits – are selling “Hawaii for Obama” T-shirts. The head of Visit USA Association in the UK believes that Obama will be good for tourism across the states, with more British visitors despite the stronger dollar. “I think that inevitably, following a popular election, there’s going to be a buzz, and this will be good for tourism generally,” said Alan Waddle, chief operating officer for Visit USA.

President-elect and body-surfing fan Barack Obama could break the trend of White House incumbents by travelling overseas for his holidays. As well as trips to Hawaii to catch a few waves and take walks along the beach with his wife and children, Obama went to St Thomas in the Virgin Islands earlier this year and recently visited the homeland of his father in Kenya.

Of recent presidents, Jimmy Carter took the fewest holidays, just 79 days off during office – less than three weeks a year. At the other extreme, Dwight Eisenhower made 29 trips to Augusta National in Georgia to play golf, enjoying an estimated 222 days on the golf course. President Bush is believed to have taken off more than 450 days during his two terms in office, overtaking the previous record set by Reagan at 335. Most of these were spent in Crawford, Texas.

John Adams, the second president (1797-1801), once spent seven months away from the White House with his ill wife on their farm in Massachusetts. “No other president stayed away as long. Enemies joked he had abdicated,” say academics at George Mason University in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, the third president (1801-1809), also stayed at his country home, Monticello, in Virginia from mid-July to October in 1805.

American tourist officials will be hoping that holidaying at home will be one tradition that Obama will not break.

LifeLock warns consumers to safeguard their personal information this holiday season

Black Friday is the most ideal time for an identity thief to target unsuspecting victims. Consumers facing an already tough economy, they need to be particularly wary this holiday season of scams and fraud both at stores and in the online world of shopping. Considered to be one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving.

steal-cc“While the holiday season is surely a time for cheer and celebration, it is also a time when identity thieves are waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting consumers,” said one of the LifeLock official. “Whether it takes place at shopping malls or online, identity theft can increase over the holidays. However, we are confident that if consumers are armed with the necessary tools to protect their personal information, thieves will not continue to profit nearly as much off innocent victims.”
There are many steps consumers can take to protect their credit and to ensure that when the holidays are over and they are done spending, their credit won’t need any mending. Below are some tips that offers for shoppers to keep in mind to safeguard their identities this holiday season:
— Shut out Scrooge – Make it difficult for criminals to apply for and receive new credit in your name. Place a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus and deny those thieves looking to thwart your credit and your holiday spirit.
— Memorize it – If you don’t know it by heart yet, think of a catchy way to memorize your Social Security number and then you can keep it stored in the safest place of all (your brain!) and not in your wallet.
— Are you really you? – Write “See ID” in ink on the back of your credit card next to your signature. This is an effective way of reminding cashiers to check the credit card against your photo identification.
— Keep your distance – Beware of anyone looking over your shoulder when you are making a purchase. Especially when using a debit card, make sure to cover the pin keypad while entering your personal pin — “shoulder surfers” could be watching or even recording on a cell phone camera!
— Gone “phishing” – Watch out for “phishing” scams, when crooks send you e-mails that look to be from legitimate companies, requesting that you provide them with personal information.
Life Lock works to close many of the doors identity thieves go through to misuse personal information.