Flying high: Hartselle senior is dual enrolled in aviation program
Special to the Enquirer
Brayden McNeal is quite the unusual student at Hartselle High School. The senior in high school flies high as a private pilot. One of the more special aspects of McNeal’s many achievements, is that he is the first student in Hartselle to dual enroll in the Aviation Technology program at Wallace State Community College. The program provides training for professional and recreational pilots of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, something that is right up McNeal’s alley.
Since he was a little boy, McNeal said he has yearned to fly – accomplishing this lofty goal this past year. He began his aviation pursuit by enrolling in Civil Air Patrol at Hartselle Hight and has attended various training opportunities to include Auburn’s Aviation Camp on campus at Auburn University.
Turning 16, McNeal soloed on his birthday, flying an airplane by himself under the tutelage of his instructor out of Hartselle’s airport. Not to fall behind, he also tested for and was awarded his private pilots license the month he turned 17-years-old, the minimum age to do so. Now working on his instrument rating through Wallace State, he has selected Auburn’s Aviation program to continue his work after graduating high school this spring.
With all the privileges of an accomplished pilot, McNeal also flies with the Civil Air Patrol, commanding a Cessna 172 to keep up his skills. Now that he is advancing through his ratings, he will be ahead of most of his contemporaries at Auburn. McNeal said he is excited to begin his education at Auburn.
“I look at this an adventure of a lifetime,” McNeal said. “My sister is a graduate of Auburn and I am very familiar with the University. I feel that this will be an easy transition for me as I start living the dream of being a commercial pilot trainee.”