Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Soaring to new heights with fully paid private flying license

Vedanth Krishna
North Penn’s newest flyers pose together in the JROTC clasroom; the room where their journey began.

Today private flying licenses range from $15,000 to $20,000, but for three North Penn students that price is $0. Through a highly competitive scholarship program, seniors Mia Dempsy, Natalie Rios, and Lance Rutto obtained a scholarship that fully paid for their private flying licenses. 

A private flying license certifies the pilot to carry passengers and provides for limited business use of a small aircraft. For many this is the first significant milestone in becoming an airline pilot, but for our three North Penn students, this is their first step toward service in the military. 

“This is my first milestone in getting me closer to what I want to do in life, fly for the Air Force,” Rutto explained.

Completely paid for by the Air Force, the JROTC Flight Academy is an 8 week program where students work toward their private flying licenses. The program encourages young high school students to pursue aviation careers to help address the nationwide pilot shortage. 

Three seniors from North Penn High School’s Air Force JROTC applied through a rigorous application process to secure a spot in this program. Out of 2000 students, only 300 were accepted into the program. Natalie and Lance were at Purdue University in Indiana, and Mia was at Walla Walla University in Washington.

“8 weeks, almost all flying,” Rutto explained. “We flew six days a week and occasionally flew on Sundays too.”

The eight-week program helped the three students take their first step into the aviation world.

“Getting your foot in the door is typically very hard financially; getting something guaranteed lets you branch out without the financial burden,” Rios shared.

For all three students, the experience opens a new career path and puts them at the forefront, without taking on a financial burden. The program also brought many memorable experiences

I just saw the scholarship opportunity, thinking it would be a fun new experience, but after flying, I knew this is what I wanted to do

— North Penn Senior Mia Dempsy

“My first stall… my instructor pitched up until the plane didn’t produce any lift; it was quite startling,” Rutto said. 

Today all 3 students have their flying permits, with a few of them in Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol serves as a non-profit corporation that serves as a civilian aspect of the United States

Air Force where people can volunteer. The Civil Air Patrol also lets students interested in the Air Force obtain the leadership skills, self-confidence, and discipline that prepare them for service.

“They typically help with rescue missions, and you are paid by the government on a monthly basis to basically just fly,” Dempsy explained. 

Students who are interested in JROTC should know it is more than a class, but a place to build memories that will last a lifetime. 

“You get to create many great connections; we’re really a family here,” Rios shared.

For our three students, JROTC has begun their lifelong journey of flying and service to the country. 

“JROTC is not just a class; there are more experiences that open you up to the fact that we are not just a military class; we compete, we have fun, and its more than any other class at North Penn High School has to offer,” Dempsy stated.

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