Dillion Stidwell takes to the sky

Junior Dillion Stidwell has been obtaining his recreational pilots license while being a student and playing football.

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Junior Dillion Stidwell has been obtaining his recreational pilots license while being a student and playing football.

Lathan Pearce, Staff Writer

Many people dream of piloting a plane, but junior Dillion Stidwell is making it a reality. Stidwell has been completing flying classes, with 11 hours between flight and ground school.

Stidwell has wanted to be a pilot since his elementary school years. Starting in fifth grade he was a part of a small flight club called the “Red-Tailed Hogs” which ran discovery flights for young people who wanted to be ahead of the aviating game. They could watch pilots up and close to see all of the controls. 

“A pilot takes you up in your plane and shows you the controls and everything,” Stidwell said. “Right then and there, I knew I wanted to get my license.”

Stidwell also has another reason he wants to fly planes on top of his experience as a child. Growing up watching movies like “Red Tails” which follows the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African American fighter pilot squadron that fought in World War II, helped Stidwell devlop a dream for flying.

“There’s not a lot of African American pilots in the world, the percentage is pretty low for us, so that’s a driving factor of why I really want to get my pilot’s license,” Stidwell said.

Not only is Stidwell an aviator, but he also participates in activities around Edmond Memorial High School. He is a cornerback in football while also running track. Outside of school he likes to ride dirt bikes, build drones from scratch and even create music. Balancing all of these is not always easy though, sometimes school can be in the way of piloting especially during the football season.

“I know my workload for school, so if it is really heavy I’ll have to cut down my piloting,” Stidwell said.

 Stidwell is also taking classes one year over his actual grade level to jump ahead on his hours. One class he’s taking early is senior level English junior year with his English IV teacher Christy Nieves.

“Knowing how many hours becoming a license pilot requires, he obviously carries it over to the classroom,” Nieves said.

The process to obtain a recreational license like the one Stidwell is obtaining takes 40 hours of flight time. It also requires at least 35 hours of ground school which covers aeronautical knowledge, totaling up to around 75 to 80 hours of required schooling.

“A Recreational Pilot must also have received an endorsement from a certified flight instructor with limitations and allowances,” flight instructor Djana Milton said.

There are many licenses that can be obtained other than recreational even after obtaining these. There are commercial certificates which allows people to fly for hire. There is also an “Airline Transport Pilot” certificate which gives the ability to fly planes with large numbers of passengers, such as big jets.

With all of the different licenses out there, Stidwell has many options ahead of him. All of the work he has put in so far is leading to his dream becoming reality. Starting at such a young age should give him an advantage in the aviation game so that he can do whatever it is he wants to do with piloting in the future.

Contact Lathan Pearce at [email protected]