You won’t find many 18-year-olds who can comfortably hop in a plane by themselves and fly across the country. But Luke Polypciw isn’t your average high school senior.
On his 17th birthday, be obtained his private pilot license, and he’s been taking to the skies ever since. Last year, he even took part in a mission, flying from New York to Florida to support various veterans organizations.
That will to give back hasn’t stopped.
"Once I did the charity flight last year for the troops, my passion for spreading the joy of flight to others never dampened," said Polypciw, a senior at Union-Endicott High School.
He made it a mission to bring his joy of flying to students of all ages and backgrounds. Following years of fundraising, he was able to bring a flight simulator to his high school, giving kids the change to share in love for planes.
"The whole point of this project is so that we could provide a tool for students to not only inspire them to fly, but also get their foot in the door for other STEM opportunities,” said Polypciw.
The simulator allows students to fly any plane they’d like, and travel to cities all over the world, with real-time weather. It’s an opportunity many simply would never get to experience, and one Polypciw hopes will inspire.
"And this first kind of initial taste can can really do a lot for a kid, especially if they've never been exposed to flying. It's expensive. Ninety-nine percent of the kids that go to school here just simply can't afford to go write a check for $10,000 at the airport and learn how to fly an airplane. So this is really the best way, regardless if they travel on an airline to vacation or not, to get a feeling of what it's like to be in the cockpit and to fly an airplane," said Polypciw.
And while Polypciw is an excellent pilot, he’s also a great teacher, a quality his teacher noticed from day one.
“Having a student like Luke is kind of like one of those in a teaching career. Just having a student so driven and passionate about something, is what we always try to, you know, as a teacher want for our students and want them to pursue passions," said Mike Wichowski, technology engineering teacher at Union-Endicott High School.
That passion is now being passed down to students of the future, inspiring the pilots of the next generation to follow their dreams.
The community will have the chance to check out the new simulator at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 2 at Union-Endicott High School’s STEM night. Students, parents and the public are welcome to stop by.