High School Student Learns to Fly

[McKenzie Krutsinger, a Parkland dual credit student in Aviation, shares her thrill at learning to fly while still at Tolono’s Unity High School.]

Why Learn to Fly?
Learning to fly is extremely exhilarating. You get to be among the clouds and look down at all the towns, lakes, fields, cars, etc., and it’s so crazy. Every time I go up and look down on everything, it sort of brings the world into perspective, and I realize how big our world really is. You get an incredible amount of courage and sense of achievement when you’re on a cross country flight and you get to your destination right on time using only pilotage (the map and the compass). I truly think flying is something everyone should experience once in their lifetime.

How They Make It Work for Me
Since I’m in high school and play sports, I have to be taking enough classes to make me eligible. I need five classes. I had to ask my school board, IHSA, and Parkland College if I could take Aviation as a dual credit class. Thankfully, everyone approved.

I have a flight period scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, so instead of two classes at my high school, I get to leave in the middle of the day and go fly. It’s amazing. Afterwards, I go back to school for three hours, then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I go back to the airport for ground school. Last semester, I had ground school during my break from school.

I am so thankful for everyone at the Institute of Aviation for working with my schedule and allowing me to do this. If you want to fly and earn your private pilot certificate while still in high school, they will make it work. Everyone is so understanding and willing to make it work for you.

Reaching Toward My Future
I would like to use my pilot certificate and continue earning all my other ratings and certificates. The ultimate goal is to be either a commercial or corporate pilot. Women only make up about 7% of commercial pilots. I want to be one of those 7%, and I hope to see that number grow. We have quite a few females at the Institute and I love it. It’s so easy to connect with them. We all know we are the underdogs and we have to prove ourselves to everyone out there.

Amelia Earhart and Softball
Sybil Phillips helped me find a scholarship through the Amelia Rose Earhart foundation. I applied for the scholarship, and they paid for a fun flight for me to go on. After that, I actually ended up winning. It was a great feeling, but I couldn’t have done it without Sybil’s help. I’m also very active in softball; I play at my high school and for a travel team from Chicago. Softball is basically year-round for me. I earned a scholarship to play at Florida Institute of Technology. That is where I will be finishing out my flight school.

I’m so thankful for Parkland getting me a head start on my flying career. I’m glad I got the chance to experience this opportunity in high school because it helped solidify that this was the path I wanted to take. By solidifying that, I could start looking for schools I wanted to go to. If flying interests you at all, I encourage you to take a fun flight. You get to experience what your flight training might be like. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity the Parkland College Institute of Aviation at the University of Illinois has given me.

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