certified cargo dronesStudent pilot answering God’s call to fly | Local News

November 27, 2021by helo-10

As a kid, Alicía Schaak fell in love with the sky.

“I was bullied when I was younger, and I had a really bad self-image,” said the now 17-year-old. “So, I would look at the sky, the sunsets and sunrises, and say, ‘Wow, that’s so beautiful.’ Then one day I felt God tell me, ‘Why can you look at something so simple for me to create in just a few seconds, yet I took nine months to form you to make you as beautiful as you are, and you can’t see it?’

“That really made me think, and I fell in love with the artwork of the Creator,” she said. “I fell in love with the sky and how it reminds me of my self-worth and who made me.”

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When she was in eighth grade, she attended a Young Eagles rally at the Dunnellon airport. The Young Eagles program, established by the US Experimental Aircraft Association in 1992, offers kids between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to take a free flight in a general aviation airplane as a way of educating them about aviation.

“The plane I went in was pink, and it was so cool,” she said. “I was super excited. My Papa worked on aircraft carriers in the Navy, and I remember him telling me about how the planes land on the aircraft carriers.

“He died in 2008, and I was thinking about him that day,” she said.

She said the week prior to that, a retired Air Force pilot had visited one of her classes at school. So, between that and going for her first plane ride and the message God had given her, she felt God’s calling to get her pilot’s license.

At the Young Eagles rally, Alicía met some pilots who let her fly with them. They answered her questions and let her dream out loud about the possibilities of her future in aviation.

Through one of the pilots she learned that Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala offered an aviation program, a dual-enrollment program with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona.

She is now in her senior year at Trinity where she’s learning the ins and outs of aviation, from how airplanes work to how to use drones to help with energy conservation.

And she started flight school lessons with a certified flight instructor this past October with Ocala Aviation Services Flight School.

She said going to school in Ocala, and now adding early morning flight lessons before school starts, is a huge commitment, but one she’s more than happy to make.

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On weekday mornings, Alicía Schaak wakes up at 5 a.m. to get ready and out the door by 6:15 to get to the airport in Ocala for her 7 a.m. flight training lessons.

She said although she loves the “fear factor” of flying, some of the things she’s learning to do have made her nervous.

“Like stalls,” she said. “That’s when you bring the nose (of the plane) up all the way until there’s no more lift and then you drop and you have to recover. But after a while I got the hang of it.

“My approach for landings are still a little rough,” she said.

After finishing at 8:45, she goes to school from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., then has cheerleading practice from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“In between, from 3 to 4:30, that’s for club events and meetings,” she said, from school service clubs and the National Honor Society to Mu Alpha Theta Society math club.

Sometimes she tutors other students.

At 6:30 p.m., as she heads back home to Beverly Hills, about a 45-minute drive, she might stop at the store for her mom.

Once home, it’s time to eat, do homework and chores, then bedtime.

“I’m definitely busy,” she said. “Every morning my prayer is: ‘Lord, use me today and give me strength.’”

Also, Alicía plays flag football, which has turned out to be part of a bigger plan for her life.

“All through high school I’ve been playing football, and I never thought anything about playing in college, because they just started giving scholarships to girls,” she said. “My best friend told me I should make an NCSA account.”

NCSA, Next College Student Athlete, connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches.

“I just thought, the chances of me finding a college that has aviation AND flag football are so slim, but I made the account just because my friend begged me to,” she said.

Meanwhile, Alicía was actively pursuing other college opportunities.

“If you would’ve asked me when I was a freshman what college I was going to, I would’ve said Embry-Riddle or one of the military academies,” she said. “But then I found out that I’m too short for the Air Force Academy — I’m 5’2” and you have to be 5’4”, although last year I found out they had a waiver for the height requirement, so I started the application process for the military.”

Then in late September, she got a message through NCSA from Hesston College, a two-year Mennonite college in Hesston, Kansas.

“It was from their flag football coach and he wanted film of me playing on the field to see if I could be a part of his program,” she said. “I called the school and said, ‘I don’t know if this is real or not. Is this a scam?’ They said no.

“Then I said, ‘Before we go any further, do you have an aviation program?’ They said, ‘Yeah, we do. We’re a Christian college —.’ I said, ‘Wait, you’re a Christian college AND you have an aviation program AND flag football?!’ I was so ecstatic — they have everything I wanted,” she said. “My mom called the school the next day.”

Alicía sent the coach films of her playing and he offered her a scholarship.

It’s not a full scholarship, but as Alicía said, “I know if God is calling me to this, he’ll provide the rest. Right now I’m doing the work, actively looking for more scholarships.”

She’s also working to raise funds to help pay for flight training.

As for her career goal, her college program requires a two-year internship, which she would like to do with one of the plane manufacturers in Wichita.

“I could fly planes to wherever they’re going, whether the next state over or another country, delivering planes,” she said. “So, I would love to be in the cargo side of aviation and save my money. Then once I could comfortably retire from that, what I really want to do is go into missionary aviation and be a missionary pilot.

“In college, I want to major in professional pilot, but get my Associates degree in children’s ministry,” she said. “I want to go overseas and wherever I go I can build an orphanage for the children and fly them back to the States if they’re sick and need care, or if they’re able to get adopted.”

She said she has been dreaming of this for a long time, and is excited to get started.

“Alicía has never let ‘no’ be an answer for her,” said Alicía’s mom, Amanda Schaak. “If it was God’s will, he made a way because of her obedience. She never let anything stop her from reaching her goals or dreams — the sky’s no longer the limit!

“She will be the first Schaak to move out of state for college, and although her dad and I are scared and will miss her terribly, we know she was made for greatness,” she said. “This is just the beginning, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

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