Teen On The Path To Become The Youngest Licensed Pilot In The Country

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Christopher Alexander Ballinger, 17, is set to become one of the youngest licensed private pilots in the U.S. This is all due to an Air Force Junior ROTC academy program. The initiative began to push more careers in the aviation industry.

Ballinger will be a senior this fall and has always wanted to be fly in the Air Force. When the D.C. native starts his freshman year of college, he will have his Private Pilot License (PPL). This will comes after he finished his instrument checkride with a FAA medical technician on Wednesday. Individuals as young as 17 can receive their pilot license.

The flight academy is similar to a $25,000 scholarship. It is a partnership between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to deal with the national pilot shortage.

As the 8-week program has progressed, Ballinger has been stationed at Walla Walla University with six other cadets. Three weeks ago, he flew by himself across the country and was the only one ready to take it on, right then. It is very expensive and normally takes months to acquire a PPL.

“This has been a phenomenal experience for me all the way around, but it has been intense…,” Ballinger said.

The academy also manages the diversity in the industry. Currently, there are less than 12% of Air Force pilots that are minorities.
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