Friday, December 26, 2014

Teen Pilot's Dreams Soaring High

When Robby Whalen was twelve, his mom gave him a present he would never forget: the chance to ride in a small airplane. Since that first flight, where he rode in the plane’s cockpit, soaring over land and water, Robby knew this was something he would love to do for the rest of his life.

"After that first flight… I mean there’s nothing like it, it’s the greatest experience in the world," he remembers.

After deciding that flying was for him, Robby began working with flight instructor Jeffrey Sherr of Brett Aviation. The end goal of their lessons: for Robby to earn his pilot’s license. Over the summer before his senior year, he worked endlessly in an attempt to earn it by the time he turned 17, the youngest age you can legally become a pilot.

As part of this training, Robby made his first solo flight, a feeling he will never forget.

"It was pure ecstasy; it’s one of the greatest feelings. It’s like driving a car for the first time for the first time by yourself – but even crazier,” he said.

And by the time he turned 17, an age when most of his friends were just getting behind the wheel of a car, Robby was ready to take to the skies. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are just 3000 pilots between the ages of 17 and 19 in the United States.

Jeffery Sherr, who worked—and flew-- with Robby throughout the process, knows how unique this makes Robby.

"It’s a very small community of pilots in America, maybe 600,000 pilots, and within them, he is one of the smallest percentage that there are, not that many achieve it at that young an age.”

As far as the future is concerned, Robby is hoping to use his talents in the sky to make a difference. He has already applied to the Air Force Academy, and will here back in January. If accepted, he hopes to become a fighter pilot, defending freedom in the air.

And for anyone interested in learning to fly, Robby is adamant that all it takes is passion, determination, and that first flight.

"If anyone has any pursuit or desire to fly, give it a try."

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