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17-Yo Pilot Gains PPL Via High School Program

Omaha University Kickstarts Careers Before Graduation

A dual-enrollment program in Omaha, Nebraska is turning out Private Pilots younger than ever, with recent alum Thomas Reid finishing his checkride at seventeen.

He's attending Burke High School's Air and Space Academy, a section of the school made in partnership with the University of Nebraska Omaha's Aviation Institute. The program allows high schoolers to log college credit for appropriate courses, most of which sit somewhere in the 100 to 110 levels. Reid said enrolling in the program was an obvious choice for him.

“I first started getting interested in aviation in middle school,” Reid says. “Just from random YouTube videos, aircraft investigations, and general stuff. When Burke had an aviation program, it just kind of made sense." Thanks to their UNO partnership, they even boast the same type of in-school flight simulator has proven particularly popular among video game enthusiasts, allowing them a realistic challenge in a familiar environment.

“It was just like addicting,” says Reid about his first time in the simulator. “I just kept wanting to come back and do more, like I’d always try to get my work done early like ‘can I go fly the simulator?’ "Mrs. Rosenberg, let me go fly the simulator!”

The UNO Aviation partnership doesn't quite extend to actual flight time, however. Most of their work is relegated to the ground and sim, giving students a solid base to draw from if they can fund their flight training after school. Reid made plenty of use of the flight sim, practicing his maneuvers after each lesson to show up to the next one as spot-on as he could be. Reid had plenty of practice heading into his checkride, too, taking the test with 55 hours in his logbook. He passed on the first try, getting his PPL at 17. So far, he's on the right track, planning to move on up to UNO's Aviation Institute once graduated. From there, it's on to instructing and the airlines.

FMI: www.unomaha.edu

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