When he began high school, Joseph Collins had planned on a career in the medical field. However, in his first aviation course as a freshman, he discovered a new passion.
“After the 30-minute flight freshman year, I thought, ‘Wow this is awesome, I need to look into this more,’” he said. “Then I thought that I would try to solo and by then I would have a good idea about whether I want to do it as a career.”
After completing the Elizabethton High School Aviation Program and hours of experience in the simulator and in the air, the 2018 graduate has taken the next steps toward becoming a pilot.
Collins is the third EHS graduate to earn his private pilot certificate and the eighth to complete a solo flight. Though he can’t get paid to fly with his private pilot certificate, he can accumulate flight hours required for his commercial pilot license. He is currently enrolled at Liberty University, concentrating in commercial corporate flight with plans to become an Airline Transport Pilot.
He initially took interest in aviation because he knew Mr. Dan Mills, the aviation instructor at EHS.
“I wouldn’t have chosen aviation if it wasn’t for him – he’s an amazing person,” he said. “I still wish he was my instructor. It’s an awesome program.”
Collins said the aviation courses, flights in the simulator, and flights with Mr. Mills at the Elizabethton airport fully equipped him for his private pilot training – even more than most in the program. “All I have is praise for the program at Elizabethton,” he said.
Mills said Collins’ courses and flying at EHS, along with working at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, saved him more than $11,000 in college tuition and gave him experience that placed him ahead of the rest. On top of that, by working at the airport, Joseph gained valuable insights into airport operations.
Mills said he was an excellent pilot as a student and he expects great success in Collins’ aviation career, which has only just begun.
“I really think our Elizabethton aviation program changed his life, and I’ve seen that with multiple students,” Mills said.