When was the last time you found yourself flying high over different countries and above scenic landscapes? There's nothing quite like soaring high in an open helicopter. For Nate Winston, this is a regular adventure. Read how this pilot uses his log book to record his experiences in the air.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you call home? Where did you grow up? Family? Etc.
Up until high school, my father was in the Air Force as a meteorologist (weatherman), so I lived in a few places, mostly Japan and Florida. After my father retired, we moved to Washington where I started high school. My wife and I call Washington home even though we haven’t lived there since 2012 when I joined the Army. We now have three children and one on the way.
Did you always want to be a pilot? What got you interested in flying?
Growing up around Air Force Bases I can remember hearing the sound of jet engines and their afterburners in the distance and flying overhead. I’ve always looked to the sky and imagined myself up there. Once I had my first taste of flying, I was hooked.
Where did you learn to fly and how did you get into the Army?
I’ve had a few different opportunities afforded to me along the way. My neighbor in high school taught me to fly a powered parachute and then I did my private pilot training for fixed wing at Deer Park, with Dave Varnam as my instructor. I earned my rating after graduating from high school. I then went on to do a two-year mission for my church in Brazil followed by earning my degree in construction management. I had the itch to fly again and learned about a program the Army had to fly helicopters. After going through the selection process, I was accepted and went through the Army’s flight school program at Ft. Rucker Alabama.
What elements of flying do you enjoy most?
I love to see places from new perspectives. In a helicopter, I’ve been able to see the world from a unique viewpoint.
What different places have your service taken you to?
I’ve flown all over the United States and many places in Europe. I’ve flown down the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty at eye level and I’ve done dust landings in the Mojave Desert. While deployed, I’ve spent time in the places around the Baltics, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.
What type of notes do you log away in your log book and how has it been an important tool?
I write down flight time, locations, crewmembers, type and conditions of flight, the more detailed the better. The more work you put into logging your flight, the less potential for headache later on if you want to continue flying in different capacities.
How did you come across Rustico and what is it about the Pilot Log Book that you love? Which one do you have?
I came across Rustico when received the Dark Brown Leather Pilot Logbook as a gift. I love the classy vibe it gives off. Leather and aviation have always paired nicely.
What other equipment is needed for pilots to regularly carry?
Your equipment all comes down to personal preference and mission set. A good kneeboard, writing utensil, and light is a good start along with some quality sun shades.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Hobbies?
I love spending time with my family, wrestling the kids, cooking, eating, and kicking the soccer ball around. When I get a chance to, I like to dabble with woodworking in the garage building furniture.
Can you share an inspiring experience you had while serving and how it reminded you why you love what you do?
While deployed to Europe we were returning from a month-long exercise and transitioning through the Transylvanian Alps in a flight of four CH-47 Chinooks. The scenery was unbelievable with mountains and a river all around us as we were flying a loose formation though a pass.
What's your advice for someone looking to become an Army pilot? What's the best route to take to get there?
If you are looking to become an Army Aviator, you need to start with a good work ethic and study habits. Being a pilot requires a lot of studying. Also, as a pilot in the Army, flying is only a part of what you do. A lot of time is spent on additional duties that aren't directly related to flying.
There are a number of routes to becoming a pilot in the Army. The route I took is sometimes referred to as "street to seat" or high school" to flight school." Through this route, you can earn a flight slot to become an Aviation Warrant Officer before signing a contract to join the Army.
We learned the life of a pilot is a very busy one and we’re grateful that Nate could carve out some time to answer our questions. His travels are inspiring and we loved learning about how he documents the preparation and activities of each trip.