April 25, 2008 — The kids thought it was cool. But Jonathan Trainor admits that the parents weren’t quite as sure.
Less than five years after getting his first airplane ride as a Young Eagle and fueling his interest in aviation, Trainor, now 19, is the one giving the rides. He gave his first Young Eagles flights— three, in fact — in his Piper Cherokee in March to younger Aviation Explorers.
“The kids thought it was pretty cool when they saw how young I was,” he says. “I don’t know if their parents were as excited about that, however,” he adds, laughing. “They asked if I was old enough to drive …”
Young Eagles Executive Director Steve Buss said pilots as young as 17 can earn their FAA pilot certificate and then can fly Young Eagles. However, while they don’t routinely keep track of the age of the pilot volunteers, most are much older.
Trainor, of Stewartsville, New Jersey, says his Young Eagle flight had a profound impact on him, and he’s hoping to have the same impact on others. In fact, his Young Eagle certificate, dated Nov. 1, 2003, still hangs on his bedroom wall.
“I was scared at first, but once I was up in the air, I thought it was great,” recalls Trainor about that first flight. “I knew from that moment flying would be a part of my life.”
So at 16, he got a part-time job in a deli, working two hours a day five days a week, to pay for flying lessons. A year later, he got his private license. And by this summer, Trainor says he will have earned his instrument and commercial ratings, and then will work on finishing his CFI training and earning his multi-rating.
Trainor, an active member of EAA Chapter 70 in Easton, Pennsylvania, says his ideal job would be to own a charter company, but he would also like to fly corporate. And his ideal plane? “My ideal plane is a Beech King Air 250, but my favorite is the Comanche 400.”
Full circle — After getting his Young Eagle flight in 2003, Jonathan Trainor, 19, is now the one giving the flights. Here he stands in front of his Piper Cherokee.
Photo courtesy Jonathan Trainor.