It was Ashok Ravindranâ??s first time flying an airplane, and he wasnâ??t nervous one little bit.
The Lâ??Anse sophomore isnâ??t even old enough for his driverâ??s license, but he confidently took the yoke and, with the help of a trained pilot, guided the plane off the ground to 2,500 feet for a birdâ??s eye view of the Keweenaw.
â??You have an experienced pilot thatâ??s teaching you all the different components of the plane, how to fly, what not to do, and it gives you hands-on experience, and you get to fly a plane!â?? said Ashok.
He spent the entire week with seven other high school students from around the state in a 40-hour class set up by Michigan Techâ??s Summer Youth Programs learning everything from what makes a plane fly to using the navigation systems on the instrument board.
The class sounds like a full-time job, but all the instructors and pilots are volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol.
â??Some of the people in our group did it professionally. They flew in the military and fighter jets, and some flew commercially for airlines and flew 727s and 747s and that sort of thing, and everyone has a passion for aviation so we thought it would be fun to teach this class,â?? said 2nd Lieutenant Kevin Cadeau with the Civil Air Patrol.
Though the Civil Air Patrol is known best for search and rescue operations, aerospace education and getting teens interested in flying is also a big part of their mission.
â??The main goal in this is you have fun,â?? said Cadeau. â??I said thatâ??s what I want to see. I want to see you come down just smiling.â??
And Ashok did just that. After finally touching ground, he said heâ??s ready to get back in the pilot seat and one day fulfill his dream of becoming a naval fighter pilot.
â??Thereâ??s no explanation for it. Itâ??s just so beautiful up there,â?? he said. â??Itâ??s a whole different experience. Youâ??d just have to try it to understand it.â??