OKEECHOBEE — Fifteen-year-old Chloe McCullers has been flying for as long as she can remember. Her dad, Billy McCullers, is a pilot and owns a couple planes of his own, so Chloe has practically grown up in an airplane. She never really thought about flying one herself though, she said, until she was about 12. She went with her dad to an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) pancake breakfast one month. This is a flying club her dad is a part of, she explained. One of her dad’s flying partners invited her to fly with him, and she got to sit in the cockpit and use the controls a little bit. After that, she was hooked!
Her dad enrolled her in the EAA Young Eagles Club. She enjoyed it because she got to be around other people close to her age who had similar interests. Because her dad is a pilot, he is able to be her instructor. When they go flying, he has her learn the different instruments and their purpose. He wants her to familiarize herself with them all. She has done some takeoffs and landings and said at first she was scared, but it turned out to be easier than she thought. She said she always gets nervous ahead of time worrying about what she might have to do. Then she reminds herself her dad is there and knows how to do all those things. He won’t let anything bad happen. He doesn’t expect her to know everything yet. “Eventually, I will be able to do this by myself. I don’t feel as much pressure to know everything. What I don’t know, he can help me with.”
Her dad has some flying partners who will probably help with some of her training too, she said.
Chloe turns 16 in April and hopes to solo before that. She enjoys flying because she likes the feeling of freedom she gets from it, the ability to get from one place to another quickly. Some day, she thinks she might like to be a commercial pilot for an airline. She feels women make great pilots, because they pay attention to detail and are careful. There are not as many of them as there are male pilots, and she thinks it is a great field for a woman to get into.
While in the Young Eagles Club, Chloe was able to help build an airplane. They were working on the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and had started on the fuselage when COVID struck the US. They had to shut down the club for the time being, but she hopes to be able to get back into it when they open back up.
Young Eagles is for middle school through high school age students. For more information, see their website at sebringeaa.org/young-eagles.