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Flying at 15
Plymouth’s Jovianne Schwibinger has never driven a car.

But she’s flown a plane.

Schwibinger, 15, is enrolled in Lakeland University’s five-week summer collegiate aviation course for high school students. Last week, the soon-to-be Plymouth High School sophomore co-piloted Lakeland’s SR-20 aircraft. Accompanied by Steven Vaught, Lakeland’s assistant chief flight instructor, Schwibinger steered the plane across Sheboygan County skies.

“It was really fun,” said Schwibinger. “You feel so independent up there. We flew over my house, and took a picture of it. We saw Road America, too.”

Vaught said he enjoys introducing young students like Schwibinger to the incredible joys of flying.

“Leonardo da Vinci got it right,” said Vaught. “He said, ‘For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.’ ”

Lakeland’s comprehensive course features far more than just time spent in the air. For nearly an hour before they took off, Schwibinger and Vaught meticulously went over the pre-flight checklist in the hangar. Once they got the plane onto the tarmac, additional pre-flight checks ensued.

Even before she earned the right to fly, Schwibinger proved her mettle in the classroom. Lakeland’s course includes the basics of flight aerodynamics and flight systems, FAA regulations, how air traffic control works and more.

Lakeland is the only university or four-year college in Wisconsin with a professional flight training program. The program is offered as a minor, which allows student to earn full flight certification while also completing a four-year degree in another discipline.

Lakeland’s summer course intensified Schwibinger’s interest in aviation. She enjoyed evaluating maps and planning her first flight path, and she plans to continue flight training.

“I would tell anyone, if you’re interested in flying, you should try it,” she said. “People might think flying is reserved for only certain people, but it isn’t.” [ home ]

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