CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cole Ballard is flying high -- literally. The 2012 Scott High School graduate has his pilot's license.
"Flying means a lot to me," he said. "There is no other better feeling. When I fly, it just puts everything away from me. It's a thrill."
The license qualifies Ballard to pilot small aircrafts in good weather and fly for fun. He can't get paid for flying just yet, though. As he gets more training and ratings, those will let him fly in bad weather, earn money and fly in bigger and nicer airplanes.
"I have always been interested in transportation. Whatever kind of transportation it was -- like cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes; I like anything with a motor," he said. "I always liked aviation but didn't really get interested in it until I was about 15."
Ballard was 17 when he began taking flying lessons with Jarrell Ryan at Mallory Airport in South Charleston. In slightly less than a year, he received his license.
"I have had a really good instructor," he said. "He has given me a lot of awesome opportunities. I never did not look forward to going to my lessons. We always had fun when we would fly.
"My favorite part about flying is being in control of the airplane," he went on to say. "I like going fast, too. I get to see a lot of really neat things when I fly. It is amazing on what you can see from the sky.
"It can be relaxing, too," he added.
In the beginning, his family wasn't sure about him flying an airplane. "At first they thought it was just a stage I was going through, that I wouldn't want to do it after a little while. When they knew I was serious about it, they were glad I wanted to do something worthwhile."
Ballard has high hopes for his future in flying. He would really like to make flying a career.
"I would love to fly corporate jets. It is just a tough career, though. If my dream to fly corporate jets does not come true, I will just fly for a hobby."If anyone is interested in getting a pilot's license, Ballard has some advice: "Start as young as you can, but be ready to commit yourself to a lot of studying. It takes a lot of hard work. You have to stick with it; you can't take breaks and just do it when you want. It is like a job when you are in training."