March 12, 2014
Cory Orlebeke is afraid of heights, but that hasn’t stopped him from soaring in the clouds.
Cody, 17, will earn his private pilot license this summer, and then hopes to begin aerobatics training soon after.
“If you're scared, well there's only one way to find out if you can overcome it, “ he says, “and that is to face it head on.”
The Lakeland, Fla. teenager attended the Central Florida Aerospace Academy when he was 15, thinking he might want to be an engineer. He soon found out engineering wasn’t what he expected; shortly after, however, he fell in love with flying.
An introductory flight in an AirCam in October of 2011 sealed it. “The scenery was so beautiful,” Cody recalls. “Looking over the side and taking off, while feeling the roar of the engine, solidified that flying is what I wanted to do with my life.”
At 16, Cody earned a flight training scholarship and started his training at Lakeland Linder Airport. “I’m past my first solo and about to go on my cross-country flight training,” he says.
Cody says his parents have been supportive of his flight training, even though no one else in the family flies. While they were there for his first solo, it is his instructors, Mike and Mark, who he calls his mentors.
The AOPA AV8RS program has provided him with resources to keep his interest in aviation flying high. He says the flight training editions have been helpful, and he finds the newsletter articles inspiring and interesting.
Cody is currently a junior at Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, a charter high school housed within Polk State College. That will allow him to earn his associate’s degree at the same time he earns his high school diploma. Cody then plans on attending Polk State College to earn his bachelor’s degree in aerospace sciences, and after graduating, become an Air Force officer. Cody says he would like to fly support and cargo aircraft for the USAF. “But I would fly anything and everything I can,” he says. “I want to experience everything they have to offer.”
For other teens, Cory has this advice: “Flying is something you have to experience to know if you want to do it. So take an introductory flight and see if you like it.”
He also adds that the end does justify the means. So when times got difficult or things don’t go as planned, don’t give up. “Trying to land the plane for the first time was challenging,” Cody says, “and I solved it through practice, practice and practice.”
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