People in Your Neighborhood: La Jolla teen has his eyes in the skies

La Jolla High School student Charlie Lansky stands with the Cessna plane in which he is learning to fly.

For most people, the view of San Diego during the coronavirus pandemic has been their house, a grocery store and maybe an outdoor restaurant. But for 16-year-old Charlie Lansky, the view is broader. Much broader.

The La Jolla High School student has been in flight training in recent months and has had literally a bird’s eye view of Southern California. He spoke to the La Jolla Light about his adventures in a Cessna 172, an American four-seat, single-engine fixed-wing aircraft first flown in 1955.

Q. Where have you trained?

A. “I went to the Plus One Flyers club and they have a curriculum of flight instruction. Some days you go up in the planes and practice maneuvers. Other days, the instruction is from the ground.

Charlie Lansky takes the helm with flight instructor Zac Triplett.

Q. What are some of the notable things you’ve been taught?

A. “There are different maneuvers you have to do — you have to stall, turn, navigate and not go into certain airspace and navigate between the airspace and airports. It’s a little bit stressful sometimes, but I feel mostly safe in that it is not that hard to learn if you just practice.

“Learning how to recover from a stalled engine was pretty stressful. The instructor cuts the engine and you feel like you are going to fall back to earth and crash. But being able to recover is an important skill. The instructor told me what to do while I’m doing it. I probably would never do that unless I had to ... I would be terrified.”

Q. How is the view from up there?

A. “It’s pretty cool to look around and see the terrain of San Diego. It feels weirder than being in a commercial plane because you are by yourself. It feels like you are lighter and really in the air. Some airplanes feel like a building, but this makes you feel you are really in flight. You feel being 2,000 feet in the air. The temperature and pressure isn’t regulated like in a commercial flight. It can be pretty intense.”

A view from Charlie Lansky's in-flight adventures.

Q. Where did your interest in aviation originate?

A. “My grandpa recommended I try it because he was once a pilot. It’s possible this might lead to a career, but I’m not sure. There are plenty of careers that are appealing. I could consider the military, Air Force for college, or become a commercial pilot. ... But it was mostly because of my grandpa. He was a doctor in the military, but he knew how to fly a plane and that helped him in his career. I could use the skills of being a pilot in other career paths.”

Q. Talk a bit about the planes in which you practice.

A. “Some of the Cessnas are really old. None are from the 2000s; they are from the 1970s, but they installed new tech into them to make them safer. From the outside it does not look like much. It looks like a plane no one would be safe in, but being in it makes me feel more confident. ...

“There are two main models of planes, but the Cessna is the best one they use for students because they have the most up-to-date instruments. ... They don’t have as much speed as the other ones do, and you don’t want new people flying planes that go really fast. And you have more control when you are in a Cessna.”

La Jolla Light’s People in Your Neighborhood series shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to