Meet Pete Rafle – Princeton Flying School Instructor Emeritus

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

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