LAUREL — Laurel High School senior Diesel Yarger may only be 18 years old, but he’s already flying airplanes. Not only does he have his private pilot license, he has four additional ratings as well.
It’s an achievement that puts him ahead of the curve as he pursues his dream of becoming a commercial pilot.
Flying’s been a part of Yarger’s life since he was a kid.
“I guess it sort of began when we lived in Alaska. We did a lot of fishing and hunting out there and in Alaska you have to fly out into place ‘cuz there aren’t roads that go anywhere,” Yarger said at the Laurel Municipal Airport on Monday.
Yarger’s dad, Denim, is a pilot for UPS, but he didn’t intend on following his father’s footsteps.
“When I was a little kid, I wanted to be doctor,” said Yarger.
That was until last year, when he caught the flying bug and earned his pilot's license.
“Since then, I’ve gotten my instrument, commercial, flight instructor, and multi-engine ratings,” said Yarger.
According to 2021 data from Pilot Institute, only 117 people out of 121,270 certified flight instructors across the nation were teenagers. That’s less than one percent.
Five ratings mean five different tests, five different check rides, and countless hours of flying to meet each requirement.
It’s something he juggled while attending school, wrestling, and various jobs.
“I would do a school-to-work program, so I only go to school for half days, come here, and work detailing airplanes and then flight instructing as well,” Yarger said.
All that work is paying off. Yarger is already where his dad was at the end of college, when Denim completed the aviation program at Rocky Mountain.
He’ll start teaching flight courses next week, getting him one step closer to attaining his goal.
“I guess once you get 1,500 hours then you can get a job flying airlines,” said Yarger.
Yarger’s favorite part of flying isn’t one that immediately jumps to mind.
“The views obviously can be really sweet, but I guess the big thing is getting places a lot faster. It’s a lot nicer for sure. Beats driving,” Yarger said.
And it’s something that he shares with not only his dad, but his older brother Dylan.
“My grandparents, both sides, are farmers and ranchers, so I guess all three of us being pilots is a bit of a switch up for sure. But it’s pretty cool,” said Yarger.