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Tue, Dec 03, 2019

Teen Pilot’s Dream Continues To Pay Off

Rachel St. Louis Continues Her Story About Building Her Own Airplane

Rachel St. Louis, one of the keynote speakers at the first DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase in 2016, returned in that role this year to deliver Part Two of her story ... From 8 to 18 ... about how she’s making her dream to fly come true.

When she spoke that first year, she was celebrating her 15th birthday and talked about wanting to build and pay for her own airplane.

She was eight years old when she first got the idea to sell jewelry handmade by her mother Rose and herself at craft shows in Maine. She designed and made earrings, keychains and necklaces with an aviation theme. Next came her mobile showroom which her father Mike drives to air shows including DeLand, Fl; SUN ‘n FUN, Lakeland, FL; and AirVenture. Attend any of these shows and you are apt to see her portable black showroom with “Rachel’s Jewelry” painted in hot pink. The family lives in Machias, ME close to the Canadian border and it is a long drive to air shows.

Rachel will graduate high school in Spring 2020. Since she is also taking college courses while in high school, she will be able to enter university as a second-year student. This teen’s dream is to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, so now she is applying for scholarships to pay for room, board and tuition.

She was 10 years old when she first began flying with her father and developed an addiction to airplanes. And now eight years later, Rachel has built a BushCat which she has paid for with profits from the jewelry business and donations. The BushCat is a light sport single engine aircraft available as a kit.

Determination has been the key to her success. When she decided she wanted to build her own plane, Rachel and her father started talking with distributors at air shows. Most of the reps were interested in talking with her father and just ignored her, she said. That is until she met Daniela Knoll and Jeremy Knoll of Aerosport, LLC. They listened to Rachel describe her dream, and they agreed to sell her pieces of the BushCat kit as she raised the money rather than selling her the whole kit at once.

The BushCat was developed in South Africa and used by the police for surveillance for such things as rhinoceros poaching.

She has about 180 hours in the build so far without the engine and avionics. But part of her dream came true again when Sport Aviation Canada LTD donated state-of-the-art Kanardia avionics for Rachel’s BushCat. General Manager Chris Horsten and his wife, Communications Director Melaya Horsten, praise Rachel’s determination to finance and complete her plane.

Now she only needs a Rotax 912 ULS engine to finish the project. Although she has profits set aside from the jewelry business, that isn’t enough to cover the cost of the engine. She is hoping this challenge will not be insurmountable.

Achieving her dream hasn’t always been easy going. While driving the mobile jewelry showroom to SUN ‘n FUN in 2018, Rachel’s father Mike suffered a serious medical emergency. And she has recovered from numerous surgeries for congenital ligament problems which have kept her in arm and leg casts over the past few years.

In spite of these health challenges, Rachel keeps pushing ahead with a positive attitude. She vows that the plane will be completed by Summer 2020 in time for it to be flown to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. And with her determination, it will be.

(Source: Joan Luebbers. Images provided by Ted Luebbers and used with permission)

FMI: www.rachelsjewelrymachias.com

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