Watch above: While most people his age are still learning to drive, a Leduc teenager is reaching new heights. Sunday was Evan Miller’s 17th birthday, but that’s not the only reason he’s celebrating. Eric Szeto reports.
EDMONTON — Getting a pilot’s licence is a big accomplishment at any age, but one Alberta teen has just become the youngest licensed pilot in Canada to take to the skies.
Having obtained all of the credentials needed for a Private Pilot Licence earlier this year, Evan Miller had to wait until his 17th birthday Sunday to take to the skies alone. Seventeen is the minimum age requirement for the licence.
“It feels awesome. It’s really a cool experience,” said Evan, once he had his feet back on solid ground at Cooking Lake Airport southeast of Edmonton Sunday afternoon.
Interested in flying from a young age, the Leduc teen jumped at the opportunity to take flying lessons with his older brother last year.
“He was a very steady, dedicated student with an amazing work ethic and study habits,” said Evan’s instructor, Robert Whitley, who is also the co-captain of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association in Edmonton.
Having logged most of his flying time over the winter, Robert quickly learned Miller was a natural – capable at flying through blustery winter conditions.
“It was really a challenge. We had severe cold weather, we had strong winds. He learned to fly in crosswinds that are quite a bit beyond what some people would regard as comfortable, but he was very capable,” Robert explained.
“Some days it was negative 40 and you’re freezing outside in this. It’s tough getting up at 5 in the morning at negative 40,” added Evan.
Evan’s father says Robert has been an incredible mentor for his son over the past year, encouraging him every step of the way.
“It’s a great pride as a father, to see what he’s accomplished,” said Michael Miller.
And while he admits sending his son into the skies alone is a bit nerve-racking, Michael knows he can trust his son’s abilities.
“Both my wife and myself have talked about this and I don’t think any parent wouldn’t have some anxiety,” he said, “but we’ve seen the confidence that he has built through his training and have developed that same confidence for him and his ability to fly.”
Now that he has his private licence, Evan will begin working towards his commercial licence, which he can get once he turns 18. He hopes to one day have a career in aviation, saying the thing he loves most about flying is the freedom that comes along with it.
“It’s a lot of fun flying around. It’s an awesome experience.”