While most people tend to discover their lifelong passion at a young age, 17-year-old Nicole Edlauer said it took awhile for her love of flying to find her.
A student at Excelsior A.M.E. Academy, Edlauer was recently recognized for being the youngest person ever to complete the entire Federal Aviation Administration approved Airframe and Powerplant certification program, with the certification fully qualifying the soon-to-be pilot to enter the aviation maintenance workforce upon turning 18.
“It wasn’t until I went to an air show and won a raffle that I became interested in flying,” Edlauer said. “When you’re 11 the idea of winning a raffle is awesome for a kid. I remember seeing a toy airplane on top of that raffle box when I entered and later got a call that I had won and was asked to receive my prize at the Apple Valley Airport
“When I got there I remember looking at all these cool planes and was wondering why I came here to pick up a simple toy. One person then nudged me on the shoulder, telling me ‘Your flight instructor will be here shortly.’ After, they had to force me into a plane and had to force me out and I was hooked since.”
As the youngest person to earn her FAA approved Airframe and Powerplant certification, Edlauer — who interns at Flabob Airport in Riverside — also earned her pilot’s license and received multiple scholarships from both Rotary International and the Excelsior Staff Scholarship, according to Excelsior Principal Derek King.
“We’re all highly impressed by Nicole’s hard work and dedication in finishing this program in such a short amount of time. What she has demonstrated is that when one has a passion or calling for something they will stop at nothing to succeed,” King said.
For completing the program at such a young age, Edlauer was recognized at the school’s Back to School night on Sept. 9, as the County Supervisor’s Office, the City of Victorville and Victor Valley Community College honored her with a certificate.
“To me, Nicole’s accomplishment is extremely important. It shows her connection with both her education and the work force, an overall goal and trait every young student should strive for,” King said. “What she has accomplished through our program is a game changer.”
In addition to completing the certification program, Edlauer already has a job offer already lined up at Boeing. But even with all she’s accomplished, Edlauer feels as though she is just getting started and humbly encourages those who wish to follow their dreams to work hard and never give up.
“My accomplishment isn’t really anything special,” Edlauer said. “Because at my age, though it is something unique, really anyone who puts their mind to it and with enough passion and determination anyone can succeed just as well as I did.”
Monica Solano can be reached at MSolano@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6231. Follow her on Twitter @DP_MonicaInes