Graduating with flying colors

This Robinson senior is preparing to graduate flight school and spread his wings.


Jules Whitaker, Feature & Opinion Editor

As seniors grow with anticipation over the thought of graduating high school in their cap and gowns, some plan to graduate with their wings as well.

Robinson’s Aerospace program, taught by Jeff Kaloostian, offers the chance to graduate high school with a private pilot’s license.

Michael Griesemer (’20) discovered Aerospace in his freshman year, where he found a passion that would later lead him from piloting flight simulators to flying planes.

In his junior year, Griesemer started training to earn his private pilot’s license.

At 16 years old a student can fly solo and for a student to receive their pilot’s license, they must be at least 17. The other requirement to get the license is completing flight school. With an instructor pilot, any student at least 14 years of age can pilot an aircraft.

“Normally that [flight school] consists of a couple times a week to make it so you’re proficient in that. You’re gonna probably spend an hour of ground time with the instructor talking about the knowledge and then you’re going to spend an hour in the air,” Kaloostian said.

Peter O. Knight Airport, located on Davis Island, is where Griesemer took off for the first time and where he’s been attending flight school the past eight months.

“It was a very freeing experience. It was terrifying at first but once you do that first lap of the pattern you get really comfortable and it’s just free. It clears your head,” Griesemer said.

Upon the completion of flight school and after receiving his pilot’s license, Griesemer plans to continue his career with Aerospace and piloting. He plans on finishing flight school this year.

“I definitely want to pursue it long term. I plan on going into the Air Force and becoming an Air Force pilot,” Griesemer said.

For students interested in obtaining their pilot’s license but cannot due to financial reasons, organizations like L3 Commercial Aviation and Women in Aviation—a nonprofit that encourages girls who are interested in Aerospace and want to go to flight school—offer scholarship opportunities to help cover the cost of flight school.

“flying is just so great because when your office is in the sky it’s just incredible and there’s nothing else like it,” Griesemer said.