Future pilot learns to fly

DHS senior gets chance of a lifetime at state-of-the-art flight academy

Jeffrey Baudoin Jr. wants to be a pilot. His experience in Junior ROTC at Destrehan High helped him come to that conclusion, but a chance encounter during a Southwest Airlines flight changed his life.

He was sitting next to an off-duty flight attendant when they struck up a conversation. Once she learned that Baudoin was interested in a future as a pilot, she was able to introduce him to the plane’s pilot.

The conversation led Baudoin to a solid plan for his future. The pilot told Baudoin about Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona – a premier flight college.

“It was like a blessing,” Baudoin said of his conversation with the pilot.

Baudoin, a senior at Destrehan High School and member of the Air Force Junior ROTC, went on to attend the university’s summer program for teens this summer.

Now he is sure that he wants to be a pilot – and not just any pilot, a Southwest pilot.

“That’s where I want to be in life for sure – even if I have to take some other steps to get there, that’s where I want to end up,” Baudoin said.

Embry-Riddle provides more airline pilots than any other university in the world, according to the school’s Web site. The Prescott Campus is also home to a new aviation safety lab, Safety and Aviation Archives and one of the largest crash investigation labs in the nation.

The week-long summer academy taught Baudoin flying basics and gave him a real-to-life college experience.

Baudoin stayed in actual dorms at the university while taking classes in aviation history, weather, flight simulations and ground school.

He also got to actually fly an F-8 single-engine plane with the help of the school’s students and instructors.

Doing sharp turns and special maneuvers was just part of what the experienced pilots showed him while in the air. He also had to spend time in the air with a visor covering his face, teaching him to rely on his instruments and not looking out the window.

The final test of the program was an assisted night flight from Prescott to Phoenix, Ariz.

Now he has earned a certificate for completing the program and a goal for his future: a degree from Embry-Riddle.

“It was amazing – I loved everything about it,” Baudoin said. “Everyone there was as passionate about flying as I was.”

To learn more about the university in Arizona, visit http://prescott.erau.edu.


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