High Flying: Since he was 12 years old, senior has followed his dream of flying

Flying an airplane is a dream captured by many girls and boys at young ages. Though as many of us get older, our answers to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” changes substantially.

Senior Justin Gray has held the desire of being a pilot since he has been able to talk. Not only does has he dreamt of this as a career, Gray has continuously made strong strides into fulfilling his dream while still in high school.

Gray said, “I was pretty young when I knew that I wanted to be a pilot.  There was no one event that transpired to make me decide to become a pilot. I just knew it was a right fit.”

With travel as a major interest point for Gray, flying to destinations has boosted his passion and drove him further into the network of aviation.

“My family and I traveled a bit, and I always looked forward to the next time we would fly somewhere. Any travel experiences I experienced have skyrocketed my passion. I love meeting people such as pilots or student pilots as well.”

Despite his current young age of 18, Gray gained his first flying experience while in junior high.

“My first experience flying an airplane happened when I was 12. My dad’s friend took me up for a long plane ride, and I was hooked with the idea of becoming a pilot. Since then I have had many experiences, all of which are helping me reach my final goal.”

Cheering on the sidelines, Gray’s family continues to offer immense support to him as he pursues his passion of flying.

“My parents never question when or where I fly. They trust me to make it home safely no matter how long it takes. I have taken all of my family flying, so they put a lot of trust into what I do. Without their support, I wouldn’t get to take these steps towards my future career.”

Currently Gray is working alongside the  industry to take steps further into aviation.

“I currently work for Livingston Aviation and American Eagle Waterloo. I work with private airplanes as well as American Airlines systems and operations at Waterloo. I enjoy having a job that allows me to be around what I love.”

In the future, Gray plans to continue work in the aviation industry as he strides for his long-term goals.

“My long-term aviation goal is to fly for an airline.  I don’t have a particular one I’m desperate to fly for. I’d also be interested in flying for the Air National Guard or reserves at some point in my life.”

As for aspiring pilots and aircraft workers, Gray offers advice for taking the first strides into the industry.

“Don’t let money or time inhibit your flying. I devote as much time at the airport as possible, or spending time earning money to fly. Also, making friends outside of school is a great advantage. Aviation is a small, yet global community, and lifelong friends in the aviation community are not made in high school.”

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