Many teens heading into their senior year of high school consider themselves lucky if they have a driver’s license. Austin Rennard of Santa Rosa, California, heads back to class in possession of a private pilot’s license.
In January 2009 we introduced you to 16-year-old Rennard who, at the time, was flying a Zodiac XL across the country with his flight instructor Ron Alvestal.
Alvestal met Rennard when they were both Little League umpires. They struck up a friendship, soon discovering they had a mutual interest in aviation. Alvestal is a professional pilot and a part-time instructor at DragonFly Aviation at Sonoma County/Santa Rosa Airport (STS). He began flying with Rennard when he was still too young to fly anything but a glider or free balloon.
According to Alvestal, Rennard’s acquisition of his private ticket was delayed only by his age.
“Austin got his certificate with about 120 hours. The reason for so many hours was his age. He had to wait until he was 17,” he said. “He had over 60 hours cross-country time with me. When I had an opportunity to bring him along on a flight, such as Jacksonville, Florida, to Santa Rosa, or Santa Rosa to Victorville, I would.”
Rennard took ground school at a local community college. He passed the written exam with a 97%. He passed his check ride on June 14.
“What I found neat was I started flying June 14, 2007, and I got my ticket exactly three years later,” he said.
Rennard comes from a flying family, noting that both of his grandfathers were pilots. He plans to carry on the tradition by having a career in aviation.