Teen earns pilot’s license before driver’s license

Daniel Shulte loves to feel the wind beneath his wings. But his wings aren’t figurative – they’re attached to a small 2-seater light sport aircraft, like a Cessna 162, for example. That’s the model he got to fly at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air Academy Advanced Camp in Oshkosh, Wisc., last August.

Shulte is the youngest licensed private pilot in the EAA’s Young Eagles program based at Sonoma Skypark, having earned his wings last May, about a month before he got his driver’s license and five months before his 18th birthday.

As a member of Sonoma EAA Chapter 1268 as well as Post 1268 of the Aviation Explorers organization, a group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life program, he was awarded a scholarship to spend nine days at Oshkosh, immersed in his passion: the world of flight.

“I was fascinated with flying even as a little kid,” Shulte explained. “I had some RC (radio-controlled) planes and model planes, and more recently, I got a computer game called ‘MS Flight Simulator X’ that can be used for both recreational and some real-world training.”

In sixth grade, his interest got a huge boost when he got to go up in a plane for the first time, at a flight school in Santa Rosa. After that, he began going regularly for free flights offered by Young Eagles programs at several airports – in Nevada, Cloverdale, and finally at Sonoma Skypark in his sophomore year.

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