BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Kevin Tully is a Sophomore at Niskayuna High School. He is also a junior pilot who just received his provincial pilot’s license today on his 16th birthday …before he can even drive. Kevin’s mom, Kimberly Tully, says that aviation was always his passion.
“I remember clearly that he got a train table for Christmas and was about 2-years-old,” she said. “And instead of going to play with the trains, he would play with the miniature airplanes and the helicopters. So aviation has always been something that has run in his blood.”
Kevin Tully is grateful to have the opportunity to fly.
“Ever since I was a kid, I always loved aviation, and I finally got to be involved in it,” he said. “And ever since then, I fell in love with it.”
Samuel Barner and Tim Hanke have been instructing Kevin for years. Tim Hanke was excited to see one of his Adirondack Soaring Club students make it to the next level.
“It was fun to watch Kevin learn to fly gliders and transition to power planes,” Hanke said. “He started with us when he was about 14-years-old.”
Samuel Barner is a retired Federal Aviation Administration pilot who still teaches young pilots part-time. He hopes high schools can get more involved in helping teens discover the aviation field as a career, especially since there is still a pilot shortage across the country. But for now, only one word can describe how he feels watching Kevin Tully fly solo for the first time.
“Fantastic… Nothing happier than when I see someone doing this,” Barner said.
The Niskayuna teen hopes that after he graduates high school, he can join the military and get even more involved in the aviation field. He does plan on getting his driver’s permit on Tuesday, but for now, he is just enjoying the experience.
“It’s been incredible…,” he said. “It’s so exciting to be here…I just had so much fun.”