Trever Schutte, with instructor Sam Monte, has joined the ranks of teenaged solo pilots in Sisters High School’s aviation program. photo provided
Trever Schutte, with instructor Sam Monte, has joined the ranks of teenaged solo pilots in Sisters High School’s aviation program. photo provided

At 16 years of age, most high school students are learning to drive a car. A few at Sisters High School (SHS) are learning to fly an airplane. Trever Schutte, a sophomore at SHS, joined the ranks of SHS Flight Science student pilots who have completed their first solo flights.

Reflecting on his thoughts during his first flight without an instructor sitting beside him, Schutte says, "The plane flew so differently with just me in it. It was even more exciting than the first time I drove a car by myself."

Schutte has wanted to learn to fly since he can remember. He enrolled in the Flight Science program during his first semester at SHS as a freshman, and has continued the sequence during his sophomore year. In addition to the academic coursework, he takes advantage of the flight instruction available through Outlaw Aviation at the Sisters Airport.

Schutte hopes to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot.

"I'd like to study aviation in college, but I'm not sure if I will take a military path or another path to get there," he said.

A looming commercial pilot shortage is causing airlines to create new incentives for students to pursue flight training. An agreement between the Central Oregon Community College (COCC) Aviation Department and Horizon/Alaska Airlines is one such pathway being forged this year.

"I want to earn my private pilot certificate as soon as I turn 17, which is the minimum age required by FAA," comments Schutte. Achieving a private pilot license while in high school will give him an advantage for admission to aviation colleges and corporately sponsored programs like COCC.

"Flight training has challenged me to learn new skills, improve my situational awareness, and develop quick problem-solving skills. I've gained knowledge in how different subjects like physics and math contribute to flight," said Schutte.

Like all the Flight Science students pursuing flight training through Outlaw Aviation, Schutte has been awarded scholarships to pay for flight instruction.

"The Sisters Airport is a great place to learn to fly. The pilots on the field and the airport owners are very supportive and student-friendly," he said. "And Outlaw Aviation provides scholarships to help students pay for flight training."

"Making a lucrative career from something students find fun is the ultimate career path," said Sheryl Yeager, Flight Science teacher at SHS.