Instead of cooling off in the pool this summer, freshman Emily Berke spent her free time a little higher— 1000 feet higher to be exact.

Berke had her first experience flying while vacationing in Florida when she was 9. She was taken up into the air by family friend Chris Hefley, who had been in the Air Force for several years and flew B-52 bombers for Desert Storm.

When Hefley took Berke up to fly with him for the first time, she immediately fell in love with the skies.

This summer Berke returned to Florida and took to the air again, this time as the pilot. Berke flew three times in a Cessna 150 and confirmed her interest in flying.

“I’m calm yet excited at the same time,” Berke said. “It’s just a great experience.”

Before every flight Berke must go through a series of tests.

“I check all the settings on the dashboard to make sure everything is set,” Berke said. All the dials have to be working and set correctly before she can take off.

Berke claims the most difficult part of the flight is the landing.

“It’s very important that you keep the plane level,” Berke said. “It has to be lined up right in the center of the runway.”

However, Berke insists that she never feels nervous or stressed when flying.

Berke is considering attending a school in Auburn called Mach 5, where she hopes to earn her pilot’s license.

“I do know that I want to do something that involves flying,” Berke said.

With the necessary flight hours Berke can pilot a plane alone at 16 and earn her license at 17.

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