Member profile

February 1, 2013

AOPA AV8RSMarkie Ell is your average high school sophomore. She’s busy between sports — soccer and golf — and homework.

But this 15-year-old from Bismarck, N.D. has a new passion, thanks to a basic aviation class at Century High School and she is now planning to get her private pilot’s certificate. In fact, she’s already signed up to take Aviation 2 next year where she will help build a plane.

Markie credits her teacher, Mike McHugh, with helping her catch the aviation bug.  “He taught me a lot of important stuff about flying,” she said. “I learned a lot through him and he’s made it very interesting.”

The class covers the basics of aviation and discusses aviation-related careers. Students also get to fly simulators and take two flights with an instructor. While her second flight won’t occur until later this spring, Markie said the airplane rides are the best part of the class.

“The instructor let me take off and land by myself,” she said. “I got to do a lot by myself, but he was there, just in case anything went wrong.”

She finds flying to be exciting and fascinating, and said she likes learning about it. But it isn’t always easy.

“I thought navigation was challenging, but I knew it was super important to know, so I just studied more and asked lots of questions,” Markie said.

In fact, she said she’s proud of all she’s learned so far. Especially considering that she knew nothing of aviation before she started the class.

“I really didn’t know anything about aviation, but I’ve been a passenger in an airliner and thought flying was cool,” she said. “I took the class to learn more…”

Her entire class signed up for the AOPA AV8RS program, and Markie said she uses her membership in AOPA AV8RS mainly to stay abreast of current events and news.

“For anyone who wants an exciting hobby, I would definitely recommend they look into aviation,” she said.  Markie also recommends they get their instrument rating. “My instructor had his instrument rating so we could fly through the clouds. It was amazing.”