In a navy cap, black sunglasses and green over-the-ear headset, Hunter sits in the cockpit of a plane flying over clouds and looking out over the horizon.

Student Spotlight: How One Senior’s Future is Taking Flight

On June 15, 2023, seventeen year old Hunter S. made his first solo flight in the cockpit of a Cessna 172R. With no instructor and different flight performance characteristics, Hunter had to acclimate to variances in weight, speed and timing, but with almost 50 hours of training under his belt, he knew he was ready for the journey.

“I started my private pilot training in December of 2022 at Advanced International Aviation Academy in Sacramento,” Hunter shares. “It was a crazy time to start flight training with all of the weather we had, but I’m glad I was able to get started. I also just flew my first solo cross-country in August 2023 from Sacramento Executive (KSAC) to Modesto (KMOD) and back.”

In the beginning of Hunter’s flight training, he was flying three times a week, two hours per flight session, and going to in-person ground school three times a week for three to four hours, all on top of his regular school schedule. As a student in the Home School Academy, Hunter was able to balance these commitments to school and training thanks to the flexibility of Visions and the support he received from his credentialed teacher, Heather Himmelmann.

“I really like having Heather as my CT,” says Hunter. “She’s easy to talk to and has been helpful throughout my time with Visions. She was a lot of help in the beginning, especially since home school was new to myself and my mom.”

Being in the Home School Academy means more freedom and more agency for Hunter to set his own schedule and complete his education on his own time. Originally coming to Visions to participate in dual enrollment as well as begin his flight training, Hunter has found the runway to success in both his education and his future.

“I like being able to do my school work on my own schedule, and that is allowing me to complete my flight training now instead of waiting until I graduate from high school,” Hunter explains. “One of the really cool things about being home schooled is that I can have Aviation as a class and get high school credit while I’m in flight training. I am also able to take some community college courses while still in high school.”

A Birthday Wish

At Visions, Hunter has been able to pursue his high school diploma, start flight training and get on a fast-track to his career. Hoping to one day get his commercial pilot certificate and A&P (airframe and powerplant) certificate, Hunter is already miles ahead in his professional journey.

“Visions has been a great experience for me. I am grateful for the opportunities that Visions has provided and that I have been able to start my flight training while still in high school,” shares Hunter. “It is a great opportunity to be able to have my private pilot certificate before I graduate and puts me ahead on my career path. It has also been nice to be able to already have started my college courses before graduating high school.”

On November 14th, Hunter took the Federal Aviation Administration written exam and passed with an 87%. Soon, he will be able to take his checkride (practical exam) and officially obtain his private pilot license before his 18th birthday.

In a navy cap, black sunglasses and multi-colored sweatshirt, Hunter sits in the cockpit of a plane and gives a "thumbs up" to the camera.

In a cap, glasses, a black shirt and jeans, Hunter stands next to a plane on the runway with his gear and a book in his hand, giving a thumbs up to the camera.

From Sky to Land

When Hunter’s not flying through the clouds, he’s flying over mountains, racing his cross-country mountain bike as a member of the Hangtown CompositeIn a yellow bike helmet, Hunter rides his cross-country mountain bike over a big, green meadow with a brown fence and foliage in the background. Mountain Bike Team. He’s also involved with his local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) 512 Chapter, volunteering at pancake breakfasts, helping out with the Adopt-a-Highway program and mentoring kids who are interested in aviation in the Young Eagles program.

“Young Eagles is a program that takes kids up for their first flight [and] also provides information and a ground school program to get kids started on their ground training if they decide to pursue their private pilot certificate,” shares Hunter. “The Young Eagles program is how I got started in my journey to becoming a pilot.”

Hunter’s personal and professional endeavors have taken off since coming to Visions, and he is excited to continue pursuing his goals. When asked if he could describe his experience with Visions in a few sentences, Hunter said, “Doing high school through Visions’ Home School Academy has been a great experience for me. To be able to start my flight training while still in high school has been a great experience and I’m looking forward to all of my future education, flight training and aviation adventures.”