by Luis Contreras
Eagle Editorial Board
Most high school seniors worry about school, girls and work. Few have to worry about the dangers of soaring 10,000 feet above the ground.
For senior Patrick Mills, that is only second nature.
Mills has been flying private airplanes. for the last four years. As a child he fell in love with watching planes take off from the airport.
He loved tinkering with toy planes and “flying” in his living room with arms stretched out. As he got older, he began to tinker with computer simulators, eventually building them up into very advanced programs. Finally, at 14, his parents let him get in the cockpit of a real live airplane.
“I love it for a lot of reasons,” Mills said. “I’m fascinated by the weather aspects, the aeronautics, the engineering and, obviously, the ability to fly long distances.”
But Mills has not always been allowed to fly alone. Only recently, at age 17, has he started to work for his pilot’s license. In a few short weeks, he will be one of the youngest Houstonians to have it.
But the process has not been and will not be easy. Apart from handling college applications and an extensive school workload, he has had to complete dozens of hours of flight time, piles of tedious paperwork, and plenty of classroom time.
“The FAA makes you work hard to get your license,” Mills said. “There are many requirements. You need a minimum of 40 hours of flight, 10 night takeoffs and landings, 10 hours of solo flight and even multiple cross country flights.”
These are just a few of the requirements the Federal Aviation Administration requires of an upcoming pilot.
The path has not been easy but Mills believes that it has been worth it, especially now that he closes in on his coveted license.
But Mills knows that the path does not simply stop there.
After receiving his pilot’s license he will have only taken his first step to his dream of being an airline pilot.
His future hopes depend on his never-say-die ethic and his passion for flight.
“I still have to get multiple ratings, and other licenses to become an airline pilot,” Mills said. “Along with hundreds, if not thousands, of hours. I’m hoping on going to a college for flight like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical or St. Louis.”
Everyone on campus knows Mills as a genuine hard-working guy.
But with so much on his plate it is difficult to imagine keeping it all balanced.
It has been a struggle to say the least, but Mills believes he has the formula just right.
“The secret to balancing this stuff is time management,” Mills said. “I always plan before I fly. I plan my day and I can get school and social stuff done around my flight.”
It is hard not to admire Mills for his determination. His kind nature and permanent smile make him an instant favorite when meeting him.
Hopefully these things will help him soar toward his pilot’s license and beyond.