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17 and a License to Fly

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17 and a License to Fly

Jeremiah Beaudin has always intended to be a pilot

March 13, 2002

His oldest brother is in the Marines. His next oldest brother is in the Navy. His youngest brother, a high school freshman, is a burgeoning basketball star for the Noxon Red Devils. Those are Caleb, Nate and Daniel. His dad has over 1000 skydiving jumps to his credit and has applied to be on the wildly popular TV show, “Survivor.” That’s Ken. His mom, bless her heart, has put up with, loved and nurtured all these guys forever. That’s Kathy.

    So what’s Jeremiah Beaudin doing to distinguish himself among his talented and active family? He’s flying.
    About three weeks ago it came in the mail – his official FAA pilot’s license. At the age of 17, when most of his peers are looking for really cool cars or trucks, he already has more than 50 hours of flight time, the last five of which have seen him in the pilot’s seat with a few friends and family members as passengers.
    Last spring Jeremiah entered the Scholarship Flight Training program offered by Chris Rinehart of Aviation Education in Sandpoint and completed the course with flying colors. Following months of training that included lessons in weather, navigation, radio communication, flight planning, instrumentation, Jeremiah took the controls from an FAA examiner last October and soared into the skies above Bonner County on a tentatively stormy day. He flew over Lake Cocolalla, out to Priest Lake and back to Sandpoint Airport, and as they touched down the examiner said, “You pass.” He had never known such elation.
    Jeremiah was born in Alabama on September 8, 1984, the third of four sons for his parents, who met in an unusual way. “We fell out of an airplane and fell in love,” said Ken about how he met Kathy during a skydiving adventure.
Two years after Jeremiah was born the young family moved to Boise and back to Ken’s home state. Ken was a graduate of Wallace High School and many in his family are still in and around Osborn.
    Ken quickly tired of big city life and yearned to move to a more rural area. He got just the opportunity he had been looking for when an old friend with whom he had worked in the Silver Valley back in the early `80s suggested he move to northwest Montana. Stu Cernick said the company he worked for was hiring and Ken could probably get on. So in December 1989 the Beaudin’s arrived in Noxon and Ken spent the next four years underground at ASARCO’s Troy Mine.
    By now Jeremiah was old enough for school, but his mom home-schooled the boys for a number of years. When he finally entered the Noxon School system he went into fifth grade. By the time he finished Junior High, he was a veteran Little Guy Wrestler and he held two Junior High track records: the 110m hurdles (17.91 seconds) and the 200m hurdles (around 32 seconds). Both records still stand today.
    Though he has been engaged in athletics in high school, Jeremiah has been captivated by other interests; namely flying. “I’ve always had an interest in flying and always knew someday I would fly,” said the rangy teenager who’s favorite movie is “The Rocketeer.”
    “Since I can ever remember, I’ve loved military jets, air shows, F16s. I’ve always wanted to fly one.” His dad would take him to the air shows throughout the region and the desire to hop in one of those planes and taxi down the runway was strong; “But I realized it wasn’t practical,” Jeremiah said. “At 12 or 13 I realized I wasn’t just all of a sudden going to be a pilot.”
    So he began learning about aircraft and the dynamics of flying with remote control airplanes. He got his first plane about three years ago and since then has built six, most with the help of his father, but this last entirely on his own. And as it turned out, this hobby was key to getting accepted into the Scholarship Flight Training (SFT) program.
    Ken and Jeremiah went to Sandpoint one day last March to fly their remote control planes at the airport when they noticed a poster for SFT. They asked George O’Leary, airport manager, about the program and he suggested they contact Chris Rinehart. The obstacle they feared might prevent Jeremiah from qualifying was simply being from Sanders County. The poster specified the program was for Idaho youngsters from Bonner and Boundary counties.
    When they finally spoke to Chris, he encouraged Jeremiah to fill out an application and promised to plead his case to the board governing the SFT program. “He went home and worked really hard on a professional-looking application,” Ken proudly related. “He bound it with a clear plastic folder and the cover page was a photo of him holding a remote control airplane. It looked really nice.” And it helped Jeremiah become the first Montana student in the Scholarship Flight Training program.
    But what really convinced Chris and the board that Jeremiah would be a worthy student was his level of knowledge about flying, gained from his experience with remote control airplanes. He began the seven-week training course on June 18, and all went well except for a problem with his eyes. It took a five-dollar pair of reading glasses to adequately correct a slight vision impediment.
    During training Jeremiah clocked nine hours in the air with an instructor leading up to his first opportunity to solo. He vividly remembers that day in mid-July and a Cessna 172. “It was awesome!” he exclaimed. “”I looked over in the passenger seat and it was empty. I got to fly how I wanted to.”
    He completed the ground school, then spent hours on the Internet preparing for the written test, which was administered by an FAA examiner at Felt’s Field in Spokane last August. Jeremiah passed it with a respectable 82%. The minimum passing grade is 70%. Following that was two hours a day, two or three days a week of preparation for the oral test and “the practical (in the airplane with the examiner),” said Jeremiah. He remembers the oral test as “the hardest thing. That was crazy!” But it was the actual flight test that may have had him the most worried. “Visibility was poor around the airport,” he recalled, and he had wondered if he would get in the air at all that day. “It looked stormy, but we went up, and I was wearing foggles (a kind of goggles that inhibit vision from side to side), so I couldn’t see outside the plane. I had to fly with the instruments. There were all kinds of clouds underneath us.”
    Asked if he was frightened, Jeremiah replied, “It’s not scary when you know what you’re doing.”
    Obviously he knew what he was doing, as the examiner gave him the “you pass” thumbs up on touchdown and Jeremiah Beaudin received his 90-day temporary pilot’s license that stormy October afternoon. The real thing, which arrived just after Valentine’s Day, is in his wallet. The timing was good. “I love flying,” he said. “I always intended to be a pilot.”
    Jeremiah’s future definitely lies with flying. He says he’ll work at “racking up the hours and upgrading my ratings.” Goals include acquiring his instrument rating and upgrading his license for commercial and multi-engine flying, plus he wants a helicopter license. He hasn’t decided if he’ll enter college or go into the military. The latter is appealing, he says, “because they give you jets to fly.”
    “Jeremiah is a remarkable young man,” Chris Rinehart said. “He’s very intense, focused. He’s been the hardest working student we’ve had in the SFT program.”
    The hard work has paid off, though it’s also only whetted his appetite. At 17 and with a license to fly, the sky truly is the limit for Jeremiah Beaudin.
    If you'd like to know more about Scholarship Flight Training call Chris Rinehart at 208-255-2059. Also, visit this website: www.aviation.org.

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Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

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