Ever since Broken Bow high school senior Levi French would join his Dad, Lynn on joy flights as a young child, he had always dreamed that he too would be able to take control and take to the air.
It won't be long now before French will be able to make that dream a reality. French has already earned his student pilot license, which allows him to fly by himself within a 40-mile radius of Broken Bow and is able to go longer distances with his instructor or Lynn, who has a full-time private pilot's license.
This will entail him taking another flying test with an instructor who will also ask him verbal questions as he's flying.
Once he gets his full private license, he will be able to fly longer distances on his own with a few restrictions.
French received a pilots starter kit from his dad for Christmas in 2010, which eventually lead them to buy the Cessna-152.
“It's just a two-seater,” French said. “It's a great trainer plane, so it seemed like a good place to start.”
French had a head start over most beginners from his experience of flying with Lynn as a child. All these training hours helped him get easily acquainted with the controls and switches of the plane.
“That helped me out a lot,” French said. “Once I got with my instructor, I already knew most of the basics. I definitely went in with my feet wet.”
Between ground hours (training on ground regulations), dual hours (flying with his instructor) and solo hours (in the air), French estimates that he has put about 50 hours towards becoming a licensed private pilot.
He also has a couple more written tests to take, for which he will travel to Lincoln and be administered the test by an FAA official.
For French, flying provides some sort of stress relief.
“You get up there and you kind of get away from everything,” French said. “Everything looks so small and it gives you a little bit different perspective.”
As for his future, French is planning on majoring in mechanical, aerospace or electrical engineering, but has given little thought to becoming an actual airline pilot for a major airline.
“I think it would be cool for a little bit, but I think I would get tired of just flying all over the country constantly,” French said.
Even if he doesn't become a pilot full-time, French would like to keep flying as a hobby for something that he can enjoy for a different type of activity.
“It's something a little bit different,” French said. “Not everyone can say they can just fly somewhere for the evening.”