Like most student pilots with 30 hours of flight time, Sergito De Sousa knows the instrument panel, complete procedures for takeoff and landing, and he communicates with air traffic control for instructions while flying with his flight instructor, Omar Sharif.
Sergito goes through basic, routine procedures that all student pilots perform, so what makes him so unique? He is only 11 years old.
“Since he was very small, Sergito’s favorite toy has always been airplanes, and he has always questioned how an airplane can fly,” said Sergio De Sousa, Sergito’s father. “At 7 years old, he asked for a flight simulator and when he received one, he had always searched for a way to take off.”
Sergito is starting to understand the world of aviation as he takes lessons in a Cessna 172 at the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“It can be a challenge, but he is an above-average student,” said Sharif about Sergito, who began teaching him at the age of 10. “He is very passionate and sometimes explains to his fellow older students things they don’t understand.”
As a CFI for 16 years, Sharif has never trained someone Sergito’s age, but believes he will become one of the youngest commercial pilots in the United States.
“The pace he is training at is unbelievable,” said Sharif. “At first I was operating the rudder pedals for him because he couldn’t reach them, but he does everything on his own now. I am just there for direction and guidance.”
Sergito dreams of turning 17, the minimum age to take his checkride and earn his private pilot certificate. Notwithstanding his youth, he is motivated and is known to take his studies and his practice seriously. This allows his flight instructor to teach him as if he were an adult.
“In our family, no one is a pilot,” said Sergio. “This was something that was born inside of him and something that was growing to the point that it became clear to him what he wanted to be in the future, a pilot.”
Until that day, Sergito will build his flight hours and will keep learning at the academy. “After that, his plans are endless,” said Sergio. “He will finish high school and will immediately consider a university where he can continue his studies in order to become an American and international commercial pilot.”
Sure, Sergito enjoys normal activities like most young boys. He is fascinated by swimming, has an orange belt in judo, and likes riding go-carts and going to the movies.
“In all of our vacations, Sergito, when we have landed, speaks with the pilots and has pictures taken in the cockpit with the pilots and thinks of the day when he himself will be a captain,” said Sergio.
But his favorite place to visit is still the airpark near Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico, where his father has been taking him for years.
“As the father of Sergito, I support him 100 percent in his dreams to become a pilot,” said Sergio. “I am proud to have a son with the qualities that he has, and I am with him day by day in all that he does. We are friends, and he openly shares with me his aspirations, his goals, and we celebrate each achievement.”
What can you do? Make the first step by visiting the Let’s Go Flying Web site—and share it with a friend or two.