Saturday, February 25, 2017

Richard Rensing: Teen sets sights high after earning pilot license

McKinney Boyd senior Richard Rensing is a normal 17-year-old kid … sort of. He enjoys the usual: Xbox, football, cheeseburgers and hanging out with friends. But, while most parents of teens ride with white knuckles teaching their children to drive a car, for Rich and Becky Rensing that fear reached a whole new level recently when Richard flew his parents to Dallas in a private plane for a weekend lunch.

Rensing is part of the McKinney Aviation Academy, where McKinney ISD high school students spend all four years of high school learning the ins and outs of aviation, putting many on a path to a career as a professional pilot. On Feb. 1, Rensing earned his private pilot license, the first student in the academy to do so.

Is it common to become licensed at such a young age?

It’s extremely uncommon to get your private pilot’s license at 17.

Are you planning to turn this into a career later on?

Yes. I just got accepted to TSTC (Texas State Technical College) to train … you start off with private, and then you go to instrument, then multi-engine, then you go commercial and then CFI (certified flight instructor). As a freshman I’ll be trained by students at TSTC, then my junior year I’ll be training the new students. After that, I’ll get my ATP (airline transport pilot), which is where I’ll be able to transport people in bigger planes. After I hit 1,000 hours, I’ll go and fly for Envoy or a smaller regional jet company.

Ever since I was a young kid, I always imagined I would be flying. Whenever we would go on American flights, I always looked in the cockpit and I’d say, “One day that will be me.” I would always tell my dad and my mom that I want to be a pilot when I get older.

Tell us a little bit about the McKinney Aviation Academy.

It’s a four-year program. As a freshman, you start off learning about the history of aviation. You get a feel if aviation’s right for you. The second year you go into the mechanic side of it and you learn about how aircrafts work and how they fly. The third year, I built an RV-12 kit plane, which is an actual plane that flies – most people think you built a remote-control plane – no, this is an actual two-seater plane. Then senior year, you go into an internship.

Why did you become involved in aviation?

My dad used to be part of a company that had a corporate jet that they would fly back and forth from here to Louisiana or here to Arkansas, and I used to go with my mom over to the McKinney airport – where I now have my classes – and pick him up. I would always look at the planes and it amazed me how many buttons are in the cockpit and how the planes flew and how they were able to get off the ground and still stay in the air and have nothing supporting them.

When I was going into my freshman year, my mom said, “Did you know they have an aviation program at school? Do you want to do that?” I was like, “Uh, yeah.” That was basically what got me started.

Through my training, whenever I would tell someone and they would ask why I do this or when I try to get someone interested in aviation, I tell them, “One mile of road will take you one mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere in the world.” That’s what I always stuck with in my training and stick to to this day. I remind myself with a little card I have in my room that says that quote, and I look at it sometimes and I’m like, “This is why I’m here.” 

Do your classmates know about your unique skills?

After I got my license, I bragged a little bit. Lots of kids at my school know that I have a pilot’s license and know that I’ve been working for it for a long time. A lot of people have been calling me Richie the Pilot or Pilot Richie.

What is your favorite aspect of flying?

Just cruising – looking at the ground and looking out at the sky. All these people are down on the ground and I’m up here – one of the few thousand people up in the sky. I think it’s really cool seeing everything from a higher perspective that not a lot of people don’t get to see that often.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I play Xbox occasionally in my free time. I’m really interested in sports; I watch football with my friends.

What’s your favorite subject in school? Why?

Right now, probably astronomy. I think my astronomy teacher said we only know like a tenth of a percent of what is really out there, and that’s what really interests me is what we don’t know about space and wanting to learn about going to Mars and studying the soil on Mars and exploring different galaxies and planets. There are thousands of planets that are exactly like Earth, but we haven’t explored them.

If you were stranded on an island, what three items would want to have with you?

A bush plane, definitely I’d have to find a good source of food, and probably a buddy with me to help along the way.

If you could pick your theme music, what would it be?

“Highway to the Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins

If you could have only one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Probably cheeseburgers.


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