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Young pilot soars thanks to lessonsSubmitted: 07/30/2013
Story By Hayley Tenpas


RHINELANDER - If Tom Mckenzie had to pick his favorite place in the world, it just might be the sky.

"When I was younger, my grandpa took me up in a Cessna just like this and from then on, even though I was a young age, I just felt that I could do it for the rest of my life," said Mckenzie.

The "rest of his life" begins this fall.

He'll be an aviation student at the University of North Dakota.

But first, he wanted to get his pilot's license.

"He called up out of the blue; he's had an interest in this," said flight instructor Jeff Melau.

Mckenzie had his second lesson at Rhinelander Flying Service.

But before he hit the clouds, there's groundwork to do.

"Usually we start out with a little paperwork, we check the weather, make sure it looks fine to fly and then we go over to the pre-flight extension," said Mckenzie.

Mckenzie soared through the pre-flight check list, and finally, he was in the place he's always wanted to be.

"It's amazing. I'm just so happy when I'm up there and it's just such a great feeling. It's so hard to describe because it's just something that I've always wanted, I love," said Mckenzie.

This flight includes a little help from instructor Jeff.

"This guy is really into flying. I mean obviously he's going to go to school for it but he's just enthused. I think if he had his choice, we'd go right back up in the air right now," said Melau.

Over 14 years, Jeff has taught more than 100 students to fly.

"And I know when I sit in the airplane for a couple of hours and I don't do anything other than TALK, I know that they're at a proficient level and I know that I can solo them, in the airplane and feel confident that they're gonna be okay," said Melau.

Mckenzie still has a ways to go before he's flying solo.

But until then- he's content with just being in his favorite place.

"It's endless. And you can basically go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Just the possibilities," said Mckenzie.

And if you take a glance at the sky—you just might see him.


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