Lexington teen earns helicopter license before heading to EKU

Lexington teen earns helicopter license before heading to EKU
Published: May. 7, 2023 at 10:37 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A typical 17-year-old is on the road, but Zach Hensley is in the air.

Growing up as a frequent flyer, Zach Hensley discovered his love for the aviation industry. About a month ago, he earned his helicopter license, after going through flying and ground school.

According to the World Aviation Flight Academy statistics, there are only 15,000 helicopter pilots currently active in the United States. There’s a pilot shortage across the nation, and the government expects more than 18,000 openings for airline and commercial pilots every year.

Zach’s dad, Russ Hensley, got him involved with aviation at a young age. Flying all over the country together, it’s a full circle moment.

“As a kid I grew up around planes. I kind of used helicopters as a gateway into aviation as a whole,” Zach Hensley said.

Right now he just has his helicopter license, but he is working on getting his private pilots license before he heads to Eastern Kentucky University.

“I think it’s good to benefit the aviation community. It needs to grow. A lot of people don’t know about it,” Zach said.

Russ Hensley said the Lexington aviation community is tight-knit. He said he estimates about 500 to 600 active pilots in the city.

“Flying with Zach at maybe six or seven years old and seeing him doing what he’s doing, I never expected it.” Russ Hensley said, “A helicopter pilot at 17, it’s mind-blowing.”

With the pilot shortage affecting many people across the country, they’re hopeful more people will get involved in the aviation industry.