Profile of an Israel Outdoors Alum – Aviator Style

Here at Israel Outdoors we are always interested in finding out more about our participants and learning about the interesting things that they do. Zachary Bluestein participated in a free Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with Israel Outdoors earlier this summer and tells us about his aviation hobby.  Thanks for sharing Zachary!

Zchary Bluestein PlaneWhere are you from?
I was born and raised in Wausau, Wisconlin

Where do you live currently?
I am currently living in St. Louis, Missouri

How do you spend your time?
During most of the year, I am a full-time student at Washington University in St. Louis. Right now, I am working for the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering here at WU, where I am assisting with financial engineering research.

When how/did you start your aeronautics obsession?
Honestly, as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by all things aviation. My parents tell me that I used to read the safety instructions card for fun as a young child; as I got older, I read innumerable books and magazines, and watched TV shows that encompassed everything from how to finance an airplane to aviation safety. I greatly preferred flight simulators to mainstream video games. Most memorable were the flying lessons that I got to take as a part of a Hannukah present many years ago. I have still not seen anything more beautiful than a sunset from the cockpit.

What is your biggest flying accomplishment?
My instructor gave out “grades” for each maneuver a student performed. “D” meant that you did it; “C” meant you did it well; “B” meant near-perfect; and “A” represented flawless. Early on in my training, as part of a simulated emergency, I had to land with no flaps – to my astonishment, he gave me an A- for the landing, and I will never forget the sense of satisfaction that I felt.

What is your favorite flying related story?
Probably just the look on my mother’s face when I told her that the airplane I was training in had duct tape on the doors and holes drilled into it.

Zachary Bluestein IsraelWhy did you decide to go on an Israel Outdoors trip?
I really wanted to experience Israel as a young adult, and I love how the trip focused on more active, outdoor activities, and exposed us to many aspects of the multifaceted Israeli culture. I found those parts of the trip to be most memorable.

What was your favorite part of your Israel Outdoors trip?
At the Beduoin tent, the person directing the camel rides told us, “Do not bring a selfie stick, it will scare the camels.” Also, trying (and failing) to navigate the Jordan River while singing musical soundtracks and attracting some strange looks from the people on the shore was very entertaining.

Anything else we should know about you?
I am incredibly grateful for the generosity of everyone who enabled me to take this trip to Israel. It was an amazing experience and I will definitely be back.