05/04/2013 10:00AM ● Published by Nancy Babin
Most seniors in high school are primarily concerned
with trying to graduate and get into college. Kyle Aponte, on the other hand,
was concerned with not only graduating from Niceville High School and going to
college but also with obtaining his pilot’s license.
In addition to being a full-time high school student, for six months during his senior year Kyle was also a full-time flight student at Eglin Air Force Base. “Being a full-time flight student is something that takes a lot of time, commitment, and responsibility,” explains Kyle. Obtaining a pilot’s license is not an easy feat. It requires forty hours of flight time, three flight exams from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a written exam. Kyle did all this on top of keeping up his GPA. He described his days as, “I would go to school at 6:00 am and would get done with flight school at 6:00 pm so I had a full day for 6 months.”
“My dad is in the military so I have been around planes a lot. I lived in Italy before Florida and we lived on the airbase, so watching the jets go by was my inspiration for why I wanted to get my license,” he explains. Since receiving his license he has logged over one hundred hours of flight time.
Kyle is currently finishing his freshman year at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, majoring in Air Traffic Control. “I chose this school for the highly recognized aerospace department and the great opportunities that would be available to me,” explains Kyle. “It takes a special person to do air traffic control. It’s a lot of information and a lot of different people in the air at once. It can be really stressful but you just have to remain calm.”
He also has a passion to teach young kids who are inspiring aviators. “I have always loved being around kids. My instructor, Justin Mcelbaney, was so good with me when I was going through the program. He made my whole experience what it was and is why I am where I am.”
Kyle still gets to fly about twice a month even while off at college. He loves taking friends and family up in the air who have never been before. “It is a privilege to have my license. Not many people have friends or family who fly little planes, so I like to be the one who gets to take them up.”
On top of his college classes, Kyle has to log multiple take offs and landings every three months as well as take an FAA test every two years to prove he is still proficient at flying.
“I have been to different states and looking at them from the air is completely different from driving. It’s a whole different aspect of what earth is like.”