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“I can’t even tell you how many times where he’s looked at me and said, ‘This is my happiest place ever, being in this airplane.’”

Up, Up and Away… with Ryan

For many of us, our first exposure to airplanes involved our mothers attempting to get us to eat our vegetables. “Here comes the airplane,” she’d exclaim while buzzing toward our face with a spoonful of green slop.

This may be where some people’s fear of flying began.

For others, they were still willing to board a plane. Not only that, but they made it their life’s mission to not only experience aviation in one way or another as often as possible, but to actually become a pilot and fly as frequently as is practicable.

One of those people is our fearless leader, Ryan Krill.

IMG_152512“Whenever we did family vacations,” Ryan tells us, “one of the best parts of going on a family vacation anywhere was the flight there and the flight back.”

He always struggled to gain the window seat on those flights and was that kid who got to go up into the cockpit and talk to the pilots. As time went on, he found an affinity for model planes.

Then, while at Villanova, he was able to take what’s known as a “discovery flight”.

“You go to a flight center — one of those airports that have flight schools,” he explains, “and you sit with an instructor for a little bit and he runs through the basics. Then you go and literally fly the plane with the instructor. It’s really cool. You’re like, ‘Are you sure?’ It’s not as crazy as you think.”

Nonetheless, during that flight, he was hooked. He didn’t really have the time nor the resources to really make becoming a pilot a possibility until around the time the brewery began.

“My beautiful wife Kaysi bought me a flying lesson at the flight school that used to be here at the Cape May Airport,” he says, “and I just stuck with it. It took me nearly a year to get my license.”

Once a week or so, Ryan would fly with an instructor. He’d study in his “downtime” for his eventual written exam. It’s not much different from getting a driver’s license.

After he passed the written exam, he was able to do a solo flight here at the Cape May Airport. The instructor flies with you as you do your takeoffs and landings, then he gets out and sends you on your way for your first solo flight — the first of many.

IMG_2426 (1)“But you’re not done yet,” Ryan says.

After his first solo flight, he needed to get another 10 hours of solo flying with at least one flight being 50 nautical miles in a straight line and back.

“You do farther and farther trips by yourself,” he explains, “and then you do a ‘check ride’ with an FAA examiner. They give you an oral exam to test you on your knowledge of the regulations, what the rules of the road are, and your basic knowledge of flying. They’re making sure that you’re going to be a safe pilot. That’s all they want you to be.”

If you pass the oral exam, you move on to the practical exam where you do steep turns, turns around a point, and basic flight planning.

“If you do everything within the specs,” he says, “you land, you taxi back, and you’re a pilot.”

But… that’s only the first step — getting your private pilot’s license where you fly with VFR (Visual Flight Rules). There are two levels of private pilot’s licenses, and Ryan’s attained the second this spring: becoming instrument-rated (IFR). Essentially, this translates to the skills needed to fly “blind” — in times of poor visibility.

Even still, with his IFR, there are things he wouldn’t want to do — like taking off or landing in fog.

“You take it easy,” he says. “But when you fly as much as I do, it’s important to get instrument rated, because the weather is always changing.”

IMG_2999And Ryan does fly a lot. As part of his work within the industry, Ryan is constantly traveling to Trenton or Washington, and being able to fly himself saves a lot of time.

“It’s an awesome tool to have because we’re 20 miles out in the ocean,” Ryan says. “So, if I go to Trenton, instead of driving five hours to go to a one-hour meeting, I can be up there in a half hour. Instead of a full-day affair, it’s only a morning. Going to Origlio in PA? Going to DC?”

Ryan loves to be able to fly to DC. The round trip in a car takes about eight to nine hours.

“I can be in my hotel room in an hour-and-a-half,” he says.

Last year, he and Mop Man flew from Cape May to Nashville for the Craft Brewers Conference — to date, his longest flight — and is slated to fly to Texas later this month.

Ryan’s been flying for seven years and has about 500 hours in the air. He’s currently working on his commercial rating — where he’d be able to fly people for hire. Right now, he’s allowed to split fuel costs and fees, but he can’t charge people to fly with him. Honestly, we can’t imagine Ryan having enough time to open his own private airline, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

He’s been trying to convince Kaysi to join him on a cross-country flight, but her schedule is relatively difficult. They frequently fly to Michigan, to visit her parents, and Kaysi is considering getting her license, as well.

IMG_2754Kaysi loves flying with Ryan.

“It is extremely fun,” she tells us. “Ryan loves to go on adventures and he seems to be pretty fearless, but still very safe. He doesn’t seem to have limits. He figures out ways to go on adventures to cool places and get around weather patterns. We’ve been in the sky together when there’s been some sort of weather building up. Again, he’s being safe, but he’s so smart — he figures out ways to get around it. He’s very capable.”

They once flew around the Hawaiian islands — Ryan’s favorite flight thus far.

“We flew around for a day,” he recalls, “checking out the volcanos and the second bombing run of Pearl Harbor. It was pretty cool.”

Kaysi loved that flight, as well.

“That was pretty badass,” she says. “It was my most favorite moment ever with Ryan. We were both speechless after we landed. It was an all-day flight. We flew to four different islands. We flew over the volcano that had just erupted the week prior and saw the unfortunate devastation. But other than that, we flew over some of the most beautiful spots in Hawaii. Places you just can’t get to other than by plane. Being on that flight with Ryan was incredible because he’s just so capable and confident up in airplanes.”

Ryan flies a few different planes — a Piper Dakota and a Cirrus SR22. He rents — he definitely doesn’t own these planes.

“We don’t sell that much beer,” he jokes.

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Nonetheless, we’d always wondered if Ryan’s propensity for flying informed the decision to locate at Cape May Airport.

“A little bit,” he admits. “It helped.”

While writing this article, we answered the phone at the brewery and spoke with a gentleman who ended the phone call with “over and out.” It’s safe to say that Ryan’s fellow pilots are drawn to our location for much the same reason.

In fact, AOPA — the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association — recently ran an article, “Pilots Grab ‘$100 Six-Pack’ at Cape May Brewery”. We frequently see pilots stop by the airport to pick up a six-pack or growler — at least two did so on Independence Day.

“Flying is really fun,” he says. “It’s not as expensive as you might think. It’s a quick and economical way to zip around. It’s not as if we’re flying in a jet — it’s a little piston, single-engine plane. It gets about 12 miles-to-the-gallon. And no tolls.”

Yet, as Kaysi tells it, Ryan is happiest when he’s up in the air.

“I can’t even tell you how many times where he’s looked at me and said, ‘This is my happiest place ever, being in this airplane.’”

So, if you run into Ryan while you’re at the brewery, talk to him about aviation. He’d love it.

Over and out.