LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) – The legal age to receive a private pilot’s license is 17 years old. On Wednesday, Baylee Ward turned 17 and spent her special day obtaining her license at Angelina County Airport.
Industry statistics report the average age of a private pilot to be 48 years old. Ward credits Hudson ISD for encouraging her to pursue flying.
“They’ve provided me with so much to get to where I am today, you know. I learned the fundamentals of flight, and I came into my training with a whole new set of knowledge that my CFI or flight instructor wasn’t expecting me to know, so I came in a couple of steps ahead because of Hudson aviation,” Ward said.
Hudson ISD’s aeronautics instructor Carla Ladner is incredibly proud of Baylee. She said the goal of her program is to get more enrolled students their private pilot’s licenses, but Baylee is their first to obtain her license while still in high school.
“Baylee’s been in the program for three years, and she’s learned everything from rocketry to drones to aviation, flying the flight simulator working there and then went outside of the school system and was able to take what she learned here at the school and apply it to a real-life situation,” Ladner said.
Ward has a total of 118 hours of logged flight time so far. To qualify for a private license she needed a minimum of 10 hours of solo flight and a 5-hour cross-country trip, which she completed around the state of Texas.
“So a private pilot license allows me to carry passengers, so I can’t necessarily fly for hire or compensation, but I can fly for non-profit organizations and just carry family and friends around,” Ward said.
Ward said she hopes to pursue this career professionally.
“This is only the first rating that I have, so this is like the bare minimum. From here I’ll get my instrumental rating and work my way all the way up to commercial,” Ward said.
Ladner said the district expects five other students to obtain their private pilot’s licenses by the end of the year.
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