A Washington D.C. teen is making his dreams a reality as he becomes one of the nation’s youngest Black licensed pilots.
According to Fox 5 DC, Christopher Ballinger, 17, completed the Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy Program. He was one of the hundreds — out of thousands of applicants — to partake in the eight-week program over the summer.
During his interview, Ballinger said he realized he had this dream when he was just a freshman in high school.
“I’ve always loved roller coasters, video games and in there you can fly all the time,” he said. “I think since then I just loved flying ever since.”
The eight-week summer program is not a light jog in the park. His day consisted of waking up at 5 a.m. and doing a written and flying test.
“We had to learn a lot in a short amount of time,” he explained.
Ballinger also discussed the lack of diversity in the program, having been the only Black pilot in the program.
“When I was actually at the camp, there weren’t any other Black people there,” he said. Being a minority in his program provided motivation to be a role model to let others who look like him know that their dreams and aspirations are within reach.
His advice to those striving to reach new heights is, “please keep doing any opportunity that you have because you never know what can come out of it.”
Coming into his senior year of high school, Ballinger began his application process for the Air Force Academy. He eventually wants to join the Air Force and fly military planes.