The camp raised money for Teens-In-Flight, which uses aviation to help teens overcome PTSD.
The first time Trevor Pearson gripped the controls of an air- plane and felt the rush as the plane gathered speed and lifted off the ground, he was in awe.
Pearson recalled his time spent on the ground, looking up at the sky and waving at passing planes. Now, the scenario was reversed. The excitement grew as the plane, piloted by Pearson — under the watchful gaze of his instructor —climbed higher and higher into the air.
People and cars on the ground started to look like ants. Buildings looked like toy blocks.
“It’s a feeling that words can’t describe,” said Pearson, 14, of Palm Coast. “You’re up there, and it’s just you, the person sitting next to you and the sky. It’s really, really cool.”
Pearson and fellow Palm Coast resident Payton Katz, 17, were two of five students to receive a certificate of completion from Teens-In-Flight on Friday, June 29, at the organization’s new Palm Coast facility near the Flagler County Executive Airport.
“You’re up there, and it’s just you, the person sitting next to you and the sky. It’s really, really cool.”
Trevor Pearson, student of Teens-In-Flight
The regular Teens-In-Flight program uses aviation to help teens of overcome their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from losing a parent or sibling, killed or severely injured while on active duty. The organization was founded by Jack Howell, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and city council candidate.
The program completed by Pearson, Katz and several of their peers was part of a summer camp hosted by Howell and fellow instructor Rick Lehman. It was the organization’s first aviation summer camp, which started on June 18, and it focused on serving as a fundraiser for Teens-In-Flight, with the five students paying $495 each for their instruction.
The camp’s instruction was geared toward helping the kids prepare for FAA ground school, if they choose to continue flying. The students were able to fly an actual plane (with guidance from an instructor), handled controls on a flight simulator and took written practice tests.
In addition, Howell and the campers formed a close bond during their time together. Howell has always worked with kids. In addition to his military duties, he also served as a high school teacher for 13 years.
“For me, it’s just a natural thing,” he said. “Dealing with teenagers, it’s nothing new. They’re funny. I love them. They’re a pain in the a-- sometimes, but it’s like anything else. You have to build trust.”