Showing posts with label Delta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Delta. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2024

Love of flying ignites dream for 2024 WHS graduate

By Ed Pierce

It’s been said that great pilots are made and not born and that those who complete flight training reach their goal through constant practice and experience. Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail may indeed be one of those individuals.

Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail
is working to obtain his pilot's license and would
someday like to become a commercial airline pilot.
He gave up playing sports in his senior year to
work for an aviation company in Portland.
While other graduates may be looking to secure summer employment, Vail, 18, has been working as an aviation line service technician for MAC Air Group in Portland maintaining fueling systems for aircraft. He’s also racked up 33 hours of the required 40 hours for pilot training and hopes to obtain his pilot’s license within the next year.

“My plan following high school is to continue my flight training and become a professional pilot alongside working in aviation,” Vail said. “I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job.”

His passion for flight is nothing new. Vail said he recently looked at a note he wrote while in fourth grade about what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“I wrote that someday I wanted to pilot a Boeing 777 aircraft,” he said. “This is something I’ve really wanted to do for a while and flying professionally has been a longtime dream of mine.”

Conner’s family, including his mother Kathleen, his father Paul, and his older brother Hunter have come to terms with his desire to fly.

“I think my mom was pretty scared at first, but she’s gotten better with it over time,” Vail said. “They all have accepted that flying is what I really want.”

Wanting to be close to aviation played a part in Vail applying to work with MAC Air Group after school during his senior year of high school.

“I have a passion that is hard to come across nowadays and I do everything I can to be around it,” he said. “My goals in life are unlike others and it seems to make me stand out from the rest of my classmates. I gave up playing sports my senior year and that was hard, but I’m farther ahead now of reaching my goal. My job is fun for me so I have never really considered it a chore, but instead a break from the stress that life can bring while in school.”

As far as academics in high school go, Vail says he just tried to stay on track, focusing on his future dreams and giving his best effort always.

“My greatest strength as a student is my ability to think differently than what I may be taught and not be afraid to use it, especially in math,” he said. “Lots of the math and science classes require formulas and lots of steps to find an answer. If I couldn’t make sense of a formula or solve something, I tried to make something for myself.”

He credits his teachers, school guidance counselors and his parents for prioritizing what he needs to be successful in life.

“My mentors in school such as teachers and counselors have helped me get to the point that I'm at now,” Vail said. “They guided me as a student to succeed in what I want for myself. But above all, my parents’ support and dedication to my future has gotten me the farthest and it continues to outside the classroom.”

Vail’s favorite teachers at Windham High School are Alissa James, Peter Small and Jeffrey Neal.

“They all brought passion to the classroom, cared about what they taught and never treated anyone like a stranger,” he said. “Their kindness and enthusiasm are top notch. My favorite class was U.S. History with Mr. Neal. I have always been a fan of history and learning why certain things exist today. Learning about our history as a nation is rewarding and full of interesting stories. That and every class beginning with current events was always a class I looked forward to.”

Vail also credits his sixth-grade teacher at Windham Middle School, Sarah Hopkins, for helping him to reach one of his goals of completing high school.

“I was by no means a great student in sixth grade. She helped me become a better student and taught me how to focus on what I want as I go through high school and to work hard to accomplish it,” he said.

With his high school diploma in hand, Vail says his immediate plan is to continue his flight training and to eventually become a professional pilot working in aviation.

“I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job and my career goal is to fly for Delta,” he said.

Now that his time as a high school student is finished, Vail says his most enduring memory will be passing in his final assignment.

“Years and years of school and thousands of assignments, and that personal finance assignment was the last one,” he said. “I will never forget that feeling. All the hard work and the long nights, early mornings and it was that last one that took all the stress away.” <