FAA Ambassador Gives Wings to Young Flyers’ Dreams
By Rob Stapleton, 'Alaska Journal of Commerce'
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation ambassador Jamail Larkins has been visiting schools around Anchorage, Alaska, encouraging young people to go into aviation by telling them his own story. Larkins, a 25-year-old from Augusta, Ga., says he was already pursuing his dream of aviation as a teenager, having received his first flight as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program for aviation outreach. “I was hooked, for life,” Larkins says. Hoping to get his pilot’s license quickly, he petitioned the FAA to allow him to fly solo before age 16, and when unsuccessful, he headed off to Canada, where student pilots are allowed to solo at age 14. Returning to the United States at age 15 and still told by the FAA that he was unlikely to be allowed to solo, Larkins started his own company, Larkins Enterprises, to fund his flying lessons. The company that he started at age 15 now makes more than $7 million a year, and he works as a factory representative for Cirrus Aircraft and sells Cessna and Piper aircraft as well, in addition to pilot supplies and avionics. He also became the youngest U.S. pilot ever to be licensed to do aerobatic performances, which he achieved when he was just 18. “There are lots of opportunities in the aerospace industry for youth, and it is looking for you,” says Larkins. “Aeronautical engineering, pilots, mechanics and air traffic controllers all are good-paying exciting professions. The first hundred years of aviation was exciting, but the next generation promises to be exhilarating.”
June 16, 2009