Aurora teen is KSU’s youngest future pilot

Abbey Linville

Stephen Hujakski, a 16-year-old high school student, takes notes during a lesson yesterday afternoon at the Kent State Aiport in Stow. Hujakski is earning his Private Pilot Certificate at Kent State. Daniel Owen | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Learning to drive, going to school and participating in Jazz Band can be a lot for a 16-year-old to juggle. But not for Stephen Hujarski, who also takes post-secondary classes at Kent State, participates in ROTC and still manages to find time to be the youngest flight student at the university.

Hujarski, a junior at Aurora High School, has been taking flight lessons for almost three months under the guidance of flight instructor Phil Oskey.

“I wanted to learn to fly because of personal inspiration. It was when I first saw the cockpit of an airplane when I was 8 years old on a trip to Hawaii,” Hujarski said.

He recently completed a solo trip to the Akron-Canton Airport, where he landed and flew back to Kent State Airport in Stow. When Hujarski flies, Oskey said, he’s vigilant and looks out for other planes while following the proper procedures both in the air and on the ground.

Hujarski was given a head-start in the program by enrolling in the Fall.

“He’s kind of a unique circumstance because he’s not 17 until February,” said Oskey. “You are not able to get your Private Pilot Certificate until you are 17 years of age – and that’s a regulation.”

To obtain a private pilot certificate, one must complete approximately 35 to 40 hours – most of which is dual flight time (with an instructor present) – and some solo flight-time involved. There are also cross countries – or distance flying – which involves one long solo flight for approximately 100 miles in which Hujarski would likely travel to Toledo and back to the Kent State Airport.

There are also three exams that must be completed in order to receive certification: a knowledge exam (essay), oral exam and practical (flight) test .

Oskey said that a Private Pilot Certificate is the first step in a slew of tests and programs that must be completed in order to fly commercially.

“He’s real enthusiastic, and he tries very hard. He definitely does homework and studies outside out of the airport and outside of the ground school. He does a lot of independent study, which I think makes my job a lot easier,” said Oskey of Hujarski’s performance. “(Stephen) always takes criticism and seeks to implement that to make himself a better pilot. He’s very, very dedicated.”

Hujarski currently flies a Cessna C-152, a small two-person airplane, though he hopes to one day enlist in the air force with a focus on transportation where he would fly a large aircraft: an OC-17 that has a 4-jet engine.

The highest he has gone is 67,000 feet, though you can go further with the help of an oxygen supplement. He usually doesn’t go faster than 100-miles-per-hour.

In the summer, Hujarski works at the airport as a line crew where he fuels aircrafts, puts the airplanes away at night and brings them out in the morning to ensure the safe operation of all aircraft.

“The airport is very busy during the weekdays. Usually there’s up to seven to eight aircraft moving at any time. There’s a lot of personnel moving around on the ramp, and you’re around a lot of dangerous things: combustible fuels, toxins, moving propellers and the danger of the airplane traffic,” Hujarski explained. “It’s not really the equivalent to working in the military, but you do have to keep your eyes open.”

Hujarski is also a member of the ROTC program and wants to serve in the Air Force for 10 years after completing a college degree. He eventually hopes to fly commercially for either UPS or FedEx after his service with the air force.

Hujarski and his mother, Cynde Hujarski, joked that “packages don’t complain” and there’s few reasons to “hijack a plane full of boxes.”

“Besides the obvious financial benefits of the ROTC program, it’s good that he’ll have an opportunity to try out the Air Force and not make a commitment until the end of his sophomore year,” Cindy said. “So if he should change his mind, and go straight to commercial aviation, then that’s an option he’ll still have.”

Though Hujarski is still a junior in high school, he is registered as a freshman at Kent State. In his senior year at Aurora, he hopes to take math and science courses to knock out a whole year of college.

He looks to complete certification around February or March of 2009 after his 17th birthday.

Contact college of technology reporter Abbey Linville at [email protected].