Gracen Partin

Courtesy photo

Gracen Partin stands on a runway at the A.L. Mangham Jr. Regional Airport, where he’s worked steadily to become a pilot. The NHS Class of 2020 graduate is a licensed private pilot and will work towards the requirements to be a commercial pilot this summer.

While Gracen Partin’s classmates might be planning to enjoy a brief break from school work and assignments, he plans to get his foot even further in the door on his career.

Less than a year ago in July 2019, Partin received his private pilot’s license. The trip to that milestone began with his brother.

Partin said his brother took an interest in flying after about a year of college, when he decided online education was a better fit for him than a campus.

“I’d sit in the right seat as his copilot,” he said. “That’s what got me hooked.”

There are two things that attracted him to aviation, and made it a career he wants to pursue.

“Number one, it’s peaceful, man, it really is,” he said. “Number two, every flight is going to be different.”

While his classmates may spend their summer wondering about the effects of the pandemic on their college experience next fall or working summer jobs, Partin said he’ll already be studying.

Ideally, he’d like to become a commercial pilot, flying private aircraft for companies, though honestly, any kind of aviation work appeals to him.

“I just want to get paid for flying,” he said.

This summer, he intends to take exams that will get him commercial and instrument-flight reference ratings.

Those ratings will open the job-market doors for him, but he isn’t hanging his whole future being a commercial pilot. Like his brother, he intends to take online college courses with an aviation focus, and he currently plans for a major in aviation management.

The FAA requires private pilots to have logged at least 40 hours of flying time, while commercial pilots need a minimum of 1,500. To date, Partin has logged some 200 hours, he said.

Right now, he’s focusing on studying for the written exams he needs to pass to pursue a commercial rating.

On Wednesday, Partin participated in the hybrid graduation ceremony held by NHS, but he’s not feeling particularly nostalgic.

“It was fun while it lasted,” he said.

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