At age 22, most of us are still learning how to navigate LA traffic. Brandy Buzza, however, is learning to fly through air traffic at the Long Beach Airport (LGB).
She’s in the process of acquiring her commercial licenses for single and multi-engine planes, and is one of three girls out of fifteen at her current level in the program. It’s her goal one day to fly for a large airline and introduce other girls to flying in what many consider a predominantly male field.
“In the long run, I’d love to open up a flight school specifically for younger girls to get them involved in aviation earlier,” Brandy said.
Throughout growing up in Seal Beach, Brandy was always interested in the mechanics of planes and flying. Eventually, Brandy went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in engineering at Pennsylvania State University. However, flying was always in the back of her mind.
While attending college, Brandy found a small introductory flight school where she took her first solo flight. She also went on to receive her private pilot license with an instrument rating there. After college, Brandy decided she wasn’t ready for a “nine-to-five” job and decided to pursue flying.
“I knew if I didn’t go to flight school now, I was never going to do it,” Brandy said.
Brandy moved to Long Beach and now studies at ATP Flight School at LGB. The smaller planes she flies are the Cessna 172, a single-engine aircraft, and the Piper Seminole, a two-engine aircraft. These planes teach the fundamentals of what goes into flying a larger plane one day. Brandy describes when she’s in the air, there’s a constant checklist that includes checking lights, instruments, and the fuel to air mixture for performance.
A lot of her schooling is also learning FA regulations. Although she says that sometimes memorizing regulations is tedious, she absolutely loves every time she’s up in the air. And just like someone who appreciates the subtleties of different cars, Brandy loves how different planes feel.
“Every plane feels different, even if it’s the same type of Cessna, each individual tail number will come off the ground differently,” Brandy said. “Some will pop off and some you really have to fight off the ground.”
At school, Brandy has solo and dual flights with an instructor or with another student. Her solo flights have taken her to San Diego and Arizona. Most recently, she completed her first cross-country flight with another student flying from Jacksonville, Florida back to Long Beach. It took them 12 days of flying because they’re cruising at a speed 105 knots (about 121 mph) and stopping at different airports to refuel.
Brandy says one of her favorite things about the Long Beach Airport is that it’s helping her practice flying in a busier airport.
“It gives you lots of experience being able to talk to air traffic control and deal with other planes,” Brandy said. “You get the best of both worlds where you have tons of hobby fliers, but you also have airliners.”
After Brandy finishes ATP Flight School in March, she plans to be an instructor to finish the hours that are required to fly a large passenger aircraft for an airline.
Her advice to anyone interested in flying or pursuing his or her dreams is:
“Recognizing some things are going to make you nervous or scared and that’s totally okay. My first solo flight I was so nervous and a little freaked out. I thought I must not be a good pilot, but I wish someone had told me no matter what you’re doing there are times whether it’s your first day or whatever that you’re going to be nervous or scared. Just recognizing that but knowing it’s something you want to do, it’s okay.”
It’s a lesson that confronts anyone: everything can seem intimidating at first, but it’s important to not let fear take hold. For Brandy Buzza, she did not let doubt cease her from flying and now her dreams are taking flight.