Episode 50. Overcoming tragedy and flying in Africa, with Pete Muntean

Pete Muntean in Boeing cockpitPete Muntean grew up in an aviation family but suffered a terrible tragedy when his mother died in an airshow crash. In this inspiring episode he describes how he persevered in his aviation journey, including flying competition aerobatics and training pilots in Kenya with Patty Wagstaff. As a regular contributor for CNN, Pete spends a lot of time on TV reporting on aviation topics, so he also discusses recent airline runway incursions, his method for explaining complicated topics to the general public, and how to give better interviews. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, Pete talks about flying with the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the craziest aviation story he's ever reported on, and whether aerobatics is more like ballet or auto racing.


  • Coping with his mother's death: “I had a lot of mentors who helped. Patty Wagstaff really swooped in - she called me the day of the accident and she said, ‘I’m going to be your godmother now.’”

  • Flying aerobatic competitions: “It’s a lot like watching figure skating from 3,000 feet away.”
  • Training pilots in Africa: “We used Mount Kilimanjaro as a reference for ground reference maneuvers.”

  • Airline close calls: “The severity of these runway incursions is unprecedented... The good news is, we’re talking about crashes that didn’t happen.”

  • Being a CNN correspondent: “I truly think of my job as being a flight instructor on a different plane.”

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