After a helicopter ride at age 14, Ethan Plunkett wanted to learn to fly. He spent the next two years coming up with the money for lessons by helping out with giving rides and doing odd jobs around the airport. Just a few months after his seventeenth birthday (the FAA minimum age for a private pilot certificate), with 55 hours of flight time, Ethan earned a helicopter private pilot certificate at Northern Helicopters in Hibbing, Minn.
It helped that Ethan’s uncle, Brian Johnson, owns Northern Helicopters, and his grandmother, Marilyn Plunkett, is the office manager. The flight school encourages young people to get interested in aviation by sponsoring career days at local high schools. According to Marilyn, the state of Minnesota has a great program in which high school juniors and seniors can take the ground school portion of their flight training through a local community college. There is no cost to the student, and they earn college credit, as Ethan did. Northern Helicopters offers private lessons or classes through Hibbing Community College and Lake Superior College in Duluth. For more information see the Web site.
Ethan, who just finished his junior year at Virginia High School, says he enjoys the challenges of flying. He plans to continue his aviation education and pursue a career flying helicopters.