MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KJCT) -- Most 16-year-olds are focusing on getting a driver’s license, but just two days after becoming a licensed driver, Braden Hobbs is already working towards his pilot’s license.
“So today is my solo day, it'll be the first day I fly the airplane by myself," said Braden Hobbs before his first solo flight, which took place Saturday afternoon.
You have to be 16 years old and have at least 10 hours of flying with an instructor before you’re able to fly solo.
“Flying in itself is incredible, but being able to fly by yourself…unexplainably incredible," said Hobbs.
Hobbs is part of the High Country Aviation Workshop for Kids, also known as HAWK.
“We get people involved in building aircraft and flight,” said Kim Neibauer, the vice president of HAWK. “We also involve young eagles; we take them up for free airplane rides to get them introduced to aviation.”
The group spends every Saturday at Mack Mesa Airport building planes and teaching kids and teens about becoming a pilot. Making sure that by 16 each student knows the ins and outs prior to boarding.
“It's a great experience to be able to both build and fly the airplane,” said Hobbs of the HAWK program. “When you can build an airplane and then go fly it you know that much more, exactly what might go wrong with it, and you know exactly how to fix it when you're in the air."
After a year and a half in the program, Hobbs was the first to take off.
“He’s done a lot of work; he's an excellent young man, an excellent pilot," said Neibauer.
Around 15 youngsters are part of the program, ranging from eight to 18-years-old.
“It's total freedom in the air," said Hobbs about his flying experience.
However, it’s not just about the thrill of the flight that keeps Hobbs soaring to great heights. He wants to go to the Air Force Academy and become an Air Force pilot.
After 40 hours of solo practice, Hobbs will be eligible to receive his pilot’s license.