LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC)
At the ripe young age of 14, when most teenage boys are worried about hair in weird places and the mystery of talking to girls, Andrew 'Drew' Glapion, Jr. had his mind in the clouds, literally.
"This all started from a flight simulator game that he brought when he was 14" said Drew's stepmother, Angela Glapion. "He came home that particular summer and said he wanted the second edition of it".
It was wheels up from there, but there was something different about the simulator for Drew. He wasn't doing it for enjoyment, he was doing it because he was falling in love.
"You know any other 8th grader they'll be on a flight simulator and they'll try to crash a plane or see how many flips they can do" said Drew. "But for me I was simulating that I actually had passengers on board and I wanted to land safely".
That seedling of a simulation turned into flight lessons, that his parents put him in without question.
"That was when he was 14. By 15, he was flying. 16 he was soloed and for his 17th birthday he got his pilot's license" said Drew's father, Andrew Glapion, Sr.
"To start at 14 and say this is what I want to do and actually do the necessary steps to make it happen and at 17 be a certified pilot... I mean it's awesome" said Angela.
From a flight simulator to the actual cockpit, Drew was determined to have his dreams become a reality and this time he took 7News along for the ride.
So up we went! Three take offs, three landings, all in the hands of a 17 year old high school senior. Flying over the Lake Charles Regional Airport and The Burton Coliseum, he sat cool, calm and collected describing the skies as his paradise.
"It's amazing" said Drew. "There's no other feeling. You can't compare it to anything. Once you're up there and you can see what's under you, you realize you have a lot of control in your hands".
As the solo pilot on this flight, the control he has in the skies is exactly the control he has over his life.
"It makes sure I keep my head straight" said Drew. "I try to be successful, I know I have to be successful so I know my priorities. School, flying, that's it".
Serving as the perfect role model to two younger brothers and other teenage males out there too.
"His two younger brothers are amazed... they're proud and it shows them when you put your mind to it, you can do it" said Angela. "Nothing is out of your grasp when you put your mind to it and work towards it".
Drew plans to study aviation at Louisiana Tech after his graduation in 2013.