Janssen One Of College Baseball’s Rare Pilots

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

PEORIA, Ill. — Mitch Janssen of Bradley University is a licensed commercial pilot and the youngest in the world certified to fly the Phenom 100 multi-engine jet.

Janssen regularly flies charter flights out of Synergy Air at the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, Ill. and also gives flight lessons before returning to Bradley for class and baseball obligations.

A righthanded pitcher, he earned his pilot’s license at the age of 17 and has been fascinated with flying from the time he was a young boy.

It is extremely rare to hear about a college baseball player who is a pilot except at a school like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where future pilots are trained daily.

“When I was really young, my family flew out to see my uncle in Las Vegas all the time,” said Janssen.

“We were always on airplanes on family vacations as well. When I was young, I became fascinated with flying and how big planes could get in the air.

“Nobody in my family has ever been a pilot or done anything aviation related.”

Janssen said when he visited his uncle in Las Vegas, he routinely visited an airplane shop as he purchased small model airplanes that mimicked the big planes he had just flown in.

“I would always try to get the planes that we had flown on. So I always had these plastic airplanes that I would play with and set up an airport in our kitchen and living room.

“That grew to playing with radio controlled airplanes as I got a little older. Then I got an understanding of how planes operated and what goes on with a real airplane.”

Janssen said that he hung around a great friend named Zach Simmons, and Zach’s dad Larry actually owned an airplane.

“Zach always talked about planes growing up. About the fifth or sixth grade, he talked about getting his pilot’s license. That is what got me thinking about getting a license as well. It is something I have always wanted to do.

“Zach’s dad had a plane at Lacon, Ill. at the Marshall County Airport about 40 minutes away.

“Strangely, I never got to see the plane until I was in high school. We did a project in high school where we had to go over and see the plane and messed around with it a bit. But we never got to fly it since we weren’t licensed at the time.

“This all sparked my interest, and I started researching getting my pilot’s license.

“I had a lot of fun playing Microsoft Flight Simulator on the computer. That’s how I started learning about flying a plane.”

Janssen said he took his first airplane flight in March of 2014 at the age of 16 at Synergy Flight Center.

“My parents (Steve and Stephanie) encouraged me to do this since this is what I wanted to do, and they paid for everything. They wanted to make sure this was something I really liked.

“After a period of time learning, you are allowed to fly a plane with an instructor on a discovery flight. As soon as I got in the plane and started flying it, I knew this is what I wanted to do even before we took off on the flight.

“I was super ecstatic when we took off.”

Janssen said he wasn’t initially allowed to train to be a pilot because of school and baseball commitments.

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The rest of the article delves into what his day typically is like being a commercial pilot as well as a college pitcher, what amount of knowledge you must have to be a pilot when dealing with things such as air speed, ground speed, true air speed, calibrated air speed and things of this nature.

In addition, he discusses some of the wild rides he has been on as an instructor as one student nearly crashed a plane, plus more.