Saturday, February 25, 2012

Teen's love for aviation lives on 2 years after his death

Patrick Marzitelli
Photo Courtesy: Facebook

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. -- Carly Rylander is one of 20 kids at White Bear Lake Area High School enrolled in the school's first aviation and aerospace class.

She was always interested in weather but the class now has her thinking even deeper than that.

"I'd like to get my pilots license hopefully get my license this summer," she said. 

Patrick Marzitelli, a former White Bear Lake student, also wanted to get his pilot's license. He was just months away from finishing his pilot training when his life ended in an ugly accident. The 17-year-old student died almost two years ago after he fell into a fuel tank at the Anoka County Airport.

He left behind broken hearts and broken dreams. But his family was determined to keep his love of aviation alive. Last year they started the Patrick Marzitelli Scholarship Fund. The fund pays for the class that helps kids like Carly fulfill their dreams. 

Prior to Patrick's death he and his father, John Marzitelli, talked about approaching the school to start a similar course.

"I was hoping to do it with Patrick...but I'm just carrying on with myself now," John Marzitelli said.

For many of the students the class is their first experience with aviation. It's also become a big deciding factor on where they will go and what they will do after high school.

"I've always wanted to be a pilot but this class kind of confirmed that it's something that I'm willing to do," Alex Vang, another student, said. 

There are plans to open the class to students from outside the district next year. 

"I think we've got something going here and we can only take off from here," Peter Pitman, a former pilot who leads the class, said. 

For Patrick's dad watching other kids live out their dreams is bittersweet.

"It could have gone two routes. We could have buried our head in the sand or we could have tried to do something positive out of negative so that's what we're concentrating on," he said. 

It cost the school roughly $6,000 to offer the class, according to John Marzitelli.

A new flight simulator, which is being installed soon, will cost another $6,000. 

To learn more about the fund or to donate go here:

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