A military service member on the brink of retirement in Florida is pursuing his next career path with Christmas-themed creativity.
Navy Lt. Cdr. Nathan Mitich moved to Lakeland, Fla. to attend flight school for an airline transport pilot certificate, according to Fox 13 Tampa Bay. The program requires pilots to achieve 1,500 hours of flight time before completion and Mitich decided to make those hours a little more fun.
Using a software called ForeFlight, Mitich created flight plans for his C172 Cessna Skyhawk using GPS coordinates. At first, he drew simple shapes like a circle, star and a trefoil.
When he looked back at the flight pattern of his star, he thought about creating a Christmas tree to go with it, and he got to work.
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Mitich told Fox 13 it took around 20 hours of pre-planning to get the flight plan of the Christmas tree just right. He added it wasn’t a “technically difficult flight” and the pattern consisted of “basic skills on any FAA flight test.”
Taking off from Lakeland Linder Airport, Mitich flew south and began creating the tip of the star. Shortly after, he headed south and east to draw two points on the star and then flew west, zigzagging northeast to southwest, to create the tree’s tiers.
Moving on to the middle of the tree, he flew across Polk County, down to Manatee County and across Hardee County to create the appearance of ornaments and bow-topped presents along the bottom of the tree.
Mitich doubled-back to draw circles in the sky in efforts to add strings of lights across the tree.
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The trip took him about 4 hours and 32 minutes to complete in his C172 Cessna Skyhawk, beginning around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 and flying at speeds between 100 and 200 mph.
Mitich told Fox 13 he only used a half-tank of gas for the festive trip.
The pilot didn’t announce specific plans for upcoming flight patterns, but said anyone can follow his trips on FlightAware or FlightRadar24.