Sometimes doing things outside the box leads to extraordinary circumstances.
Students of Jenkins Junior Senior High School listened to the story of Kyle Fosso and how he became an owner of a 1954 Cessna 170B airplane.
“Going above and beyond results in things that are unusual,” Fosso said to Chewelah students. “Like a 21 year-old owning an airplane.”
Fosso had met former JJSHS teacher Kevin Kernan on a flight back from Alaska and the two had a conversation. Mr. Kernan thought Fosso would be a good speaker at Deer Park High School and due to his connections with Chewelah, he also had Fosso take a trip up JJSHS.
The classroom was filled with kids as they heard about how Fosso – who is from Burlington and Anacortes on the west side of Washington – was always interested in planes but as a freshman in high school didn’t know where he was going in life.
While helping his dad remodel a building next to a flight school, Fosso was able to go and sit in an airplane and then take his first flight a month later.
“I was hooked,” Fosso said. “I started working for the mechanic there, Mack, for two to three hours every day and learn to fly on the weekend.”
Fosso saw a 1954 Cessna 170B plane and immediately knew he wanted a plane like that. His dad eventually found that same model of plane in a shed in Seattle. It hadn’t flown in 40 years after crashing and sinking into the water.
The Washington high schooler worked to save money and also borrowed some money from his dad to purchase the wrecked plane. Then at age 16, Fosso was able to fly an airplane alone for the first time.
An obstacle popped up, however, as the flight school shut down and he was out of his mechanic assistant job and a place to work on the plane. One of the people that knew of Fosso and the school offered him the opportunity to rent their personal hanger at their house by doing yard work there 12 hours a month.
“I taught myself how to be a professional mechanic and it all started with me not knowing what I was doing and figuring it out,” Fosso said.
After graduating high school, Fosso went to a two-year technical school to become an airplane mechanic. He said he soon realized he already knew all the information being taught and asked the FAA if he could take the final test a month into schooling.
“They said if you don’t pass you have to take the rest of the quarters at the technical school,” Fosso said. “So I went down to Texas and crammed for two weeks studying for the test and got a 98 percent on the test.”
A 90 percent score is considered good on the test. 80 percent is a passing score. Fosso finished school seven quarters early.
Since then, Fosso has been toiling away on the airplane, trying to manage finances, time and money on the project. In the end, Fosso estimates he spent $125,000 on the project.
“I probably could have two of them for that cost but the experience is immeasurable,” Fosso said. “Since I worked on the plane I was able to skip tuition costs and now I have my mechanic and private pilot license.”
Fosso admits he became so focused on the project of finishing the plane, he lost weight and neglected a lot of the outside world. It made him realize that he needs to balance things out in life and has worked on diversifying with side businesses, keeping up his reputation and relationships with people and managing his schedule.
The 21-year old now wants to fly to every state and share his unique story while also hosting flights for kids. He hopes that his story can encourage kids to find something they’re passionate about and work hard at it.
Fosso wants to speak at more high schools. He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
People can follow Fosso on Facebook at Facebook.com/2771