Flying Solo: Gretna Youth Takes Flight
June 20, 2018
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  • When you think of what you were doing at age 16, flying an airplane is probably not at the top of the list. For one 16-year-old Gretna resident however, flying airplanes is something that he’s already doing while some teens don’t even have a driver’s license yet.

    Instead of cruising down the road behind the wheel of a car, he spent one morning flying around the Brookneal area in a Cessna 152 airplane alone. Hunter Henson, had a solo flight on June 5 for the first time. He explained being in the air, behind the controls of a plane, with no one else around, flying through the sky alone, as the most exhilarating feeling he has ever known.

    “My mom and I were talking one day and she said it would be kind of neat,” Henson said. “So I just did it. I thought it would be a pretty neat hobby, and my pop was always into it. He’s always been a pilot and has been trying to get me into it.”

    Henson’s grandfather, Lionel Reynolds, has been a pilot for many years and is attributed credit for Hunters love of flying. Hunter is part of the New Horizons program at Liberty University in Lynchburg designed for high school students to participate in before they graduate. It offers qualified students the opportunity to obtain their private pilot’s license as well as a course in ground controls, drone flying and other possible job related fields in aviation.

    “They’ve been great,” Henson said. “Liberty was really good, the instructors were great and it’s a great school. I’m really lucky to be able to go through that program.”

    Liberty offers this program with a very knowledgeable and friendly staff and Hunter’s family cannot say enough good things about all those involved, “The program, New Horizons at Liberty University is wonderful.” Mother Rhonda Henson said. “Everyone I dealt with from the beginning until now, and still going, was very kind, knowledgable, informative and helpful. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested. There were 2 students in Hunters class. The other student was a girl from Ohio.”

    Hunter Henson attends Gretna High School and will be a senior when school resumes for year 2018-19. He plans on also being enrolled in Liberty’s aeronautics and aviation program while he is a senior at Gretna. He will attend Gretna half a day and attend Liberty the other half on certain days of the week. He plans to complete Liberty’s program the same time he completes high school, so he will have two graduations in May.

    Henson played little league baseball and football and now enjoys whitewater kayaking, skiing and hiking and has a real passion for snowboarding in addition to flying.

    Like his grandfather, he said he can’t keep his eyes out of the sky. Henson stated that he has career options from military to commercial pilot but at the moment is entertaining the corporate jet idea… and maybe some charters. One thing is for sure, for someone who can solo a plane before he can solo a car, he has plenty of time to decide.

    “There’s not really any other feeling like it,” Henson said. “I love everything about flying.”