From classroom to cockpit: senior takes his abbreviated schedule to the next level

Caleb Kasten

More stories from Caleb Kasten

Senior Patrick Adams flies a plane as a part of his flight program. Adams plans to get his pilots license by the spring, so he can apply to a college with a Navy ROTC program to continue his flight training.

Some high school seniors choose to have an abbreviated schedule within their school day for internships or jobs. Senior Patrick Adams uses his abbreviated schedule to fly.

He first started flying in the summer of 2022, when he took private lessons at the Montgomery County Airpark. For his birthday, his dad took him to his first lesson and Adams was immediately hooked. Adams signed up for the Positive Attitude Aviation School at Montgomery County Airpark where he spends the second half of his day in flight lessons.

I was first captivated by [flying] when I went to an airshow when I was five and decided I wanted to be a pilot.

— Adams

Adams starts his day earlier than most students to do early morning hockey practices with the WJ hockey team before school starts. He drives to school after practice for his first period class and leaves after his third period class. Most students have abbreviated schedules where they leave after the fifth period, but with the credits that Adams has already earned, he is able to surrender the other four periods in his school schedule.

Before heading off to his flight school, he travels to Gaithersburg where he takes an EMT certification course. Getting an EMT certification involves a rigorous training course consisting of weeks of material followed by frequent exams to test the knowledge. After his EMT course, he travels a short commute to the Montgomery County Airpark where his flight lessons begin.

A lesson starts with ground training and pre flight instruction before entering the plane.
The next part of the lesson is around two hours in length focusing on maneuvers and traffic patterns, such as taking off and landing. Each session ends with a debrief of the lesson to reflect on the tactics he learned. In a typical flight, Adams can travel across state borders, flying over neighboring states such as Pennsylvania.

With this flight program, he plans to earn his pilot’s license by the spring which will help him on his intended path past high school: flying as a fighter pilot in the Navy.

“Having my pilot’s license will give me a huge advantage in the process of choosing aviation,” Adams said.

Adams has already started taking the necessary steps to achieve his goal. He aims to attend a college where he can be in a Navy ROTC program along with his academic studies. From ROTC training he will join the Navy as an officer and then from there, he will go into aviation as a career path.

“I think having an abbreviated schedule to make room for jobs/internships is worth it because it allows you to work hard to pursue your future goals right after school,” Adams said.