Princeton News Network recently caught up with Pete Rafle, one of Princeton Airport’s flying school instructors, to learn more about his tenure at the Princeton Airport. A transcript of our interview follows.
I’m Pete Rafle and I’ve been flying airplanes since 1963. I joined the Navy and learned how to fly. In the Navy, I was assigned to a P3 squadron. I flew anti-submarine warfare. It was in Vietnam, ’66, ’67, then went to work for Pan-American World Airways, and then I went to TWA. I worked for two large airlines. What with the economic conditions of the 1970s, I found myself doing other things. We moved down to New Jersey, lived in Hopewell, and my wife happened to buy me a gift certificate of an hour’s flight time at the Princeton airport. I came over and Naomi Nearberg, who’s the head of the school, said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I just want you to give a safe for solo so I can rent an airplane.” She said, “No, no, no. That’s not going to work. You’re an air transport pilot. I need a commercial pilot to give rides and lessons, so you better.” I added on a single engine rating on to my air transport rating, that followed by a flight instructor rating, followed by an instrument flight instructor rating, and I’ve been teaching here for 20 years now. I have well over 4,000 hours in the Princeton Airport airplanes. That’s part of what I do.I’m still teaching two days a week, and I’m also a member of the commemorative Air Force, so I get to fly this airplane behind me, which is a Stenson Model 10, built in 1940. It turns out, it’s six months older than I am. The two of us fly to air shows every summer. I’ve done about five air shows this year. ~ Pete Rafle, Princeton Flying School Instructor