Bethany Carter, licensed to fly

While most seventeen-year-olds are pleased to blast the radio while leaning back in the driver’s seat of a car, Bethany Carter just earned the right to soar the skies like an eagle of the PNW. As of November 2022, our fantastical island has a new pilot. A member of Orcas Island High School’s junior class, Carter is both a high achieving student and a skilled athlete. Between starting on the Lady Vikings varsity volleyball and basketball teams, golfing during the off season, flying over our heads mentally and physically, and munching on cheese sticks, she keeps an active schedule. Carter has lived on the island since age four, growing up surrounded by diverse go-getters who have chased their dreams despite the challenge of stormy skies. The support of family and instructors has helped Carter follow her dream of flying. 

Carter received her pilot’s license on November 2, after passing her flight test on the only weather-permissible day of the week. She has been pursuing her license for over a year, though her plans to become a pilot existed long before she started the AirHawks flight program. Her interest reportedly began a few years ago. Carter was a fifth grader when she took her first flight, a free opportunity offered by local pilots for Orcas youth. Since then, Carter’s interest in aviation has grown from a small, wispy cirrus into a towering cumulonimbus.  

According to the young pilot, her year long investment in the AirHawks flight program has paid off. “It feels amazing. I still have a hard time believing it,” commented Carter. Orcas’ newest pilot also expressed her excitement over her new ability to fly around Washington State to visit family. When asked if she would recommend a flight program for interested high school students, Carter replied, “If you are interested, go for it. There will be a lot of ups and downs during training, but it really pays off and is an incredible experience.” Although students have to be seventeen before they can receive their license, the program can be completed in merely a few months. There are scholarships available for potential youth pilots, such as the rarely awarded $10,000 scholarship Carter received from the Aircraft Owners Pilot Association to help her navigate the costs of the program. 

Completing a flight program requires dedication and many hours of instruction. So far, Carter has logged over 100 hours flying planes, and has spent much more time in ground school, studying and planning flight routes. She hopes to pursue a career as a pilot in some capacity, potentially as an Air Force pilot. Teammate Shaye Spinner has no doubts about Carter’s future success, sharing that “Bethany dominates on the court, whether it be basketball or volleyball, as well as in life. She will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.” So the next time you see a plane cutting across the blue Orcas sky, know that it might be Bethany Carter, flying into a future full of possibilities.