By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Young Aviator -Ross Hastings, passionate about flying
By Beth Volpert Johansen

If there is an “Aviation Bug”, Ross Hastings has certainly been bitten hard. Flying has fascinated this teen since he was old enough to play with toy airplanes.

Aviation runs in the family with Ross’ great-grandfather having piloted a 707 and his grandfather who liked to take Ross on flights. “My dad also soloed here at Briscoe Field where I fly and work,” says Ross. “He got me into it.” 

After a “discovery flight” with Advanced Aviation instructor, Randy Brooks, a gift for his 14th birthday, Ross was completely hooked. Following in the footsteps of his instructor, Ross accomplished his solo flight at 16 and received his private pilot license at 17. “Randy also soloed at 16 and got his license at 17,” says Ross. “He is a steady guy-a really great instructor who answers any of the crazy aviation questions I have-he knows the answer.” 

Ross Hastings on a flight in 2003 Left: Ross Hastings on a flight in 2003

Ross’ parents, Paula and Scott Hastings consider themselves to be very fortunate. “Ross knows what he wants for his future,” says Paula. “He is a scholar-athlete and the math and physics he loves fits right into his pursuing a career in aviation.” As a rising Senior at Collins Hill, Ross has been considering his options for studying aviation. Over the spring break, Ross and his dad visited two universities in Oklahoma with excellent flight schools. “My parents have made all this possible,” says Ross. “They have supported me on this and really understand my goal.” 

As if Ross had not already accomplished a great deal for a high school junior, he managed to land a “dream job” at Briscoe Field. When Advanced Aviation was looking for a part-time dispatcher, Randy recommended Ross for the job. “I get to meet all the pilots and gain experience by learning from them,” says Ross. “I get a discount on flying and it is exactly where I want to be.” 

Airports have always held a special place in Ross’ life. As a kid, he remembers the awe he felt upon arriving at Hartsfield International for a flight to see family up north. “Whenever we asked where he wanted to eat dinner, Ross would tell us he wanted to go to Downwinds at PDK or The Flying Machine at Briscoe,” says Paula. “He always had toy planes in his hands.” Since he began dreaming of aviation as a little kid, Ross has loved the story of The Wright Brothers. “If I had a dream airport destination, it would be to fly into Kitty Hawk,” says Ross. “Where aviation really began.” 

Ross is completely committed to making his aviation dreams a reality. “He is passionate about flying,” says Randy. “He is a natural ‘Stick’ as they say in the industry-he not only has the right touch for flying, but he is always prepared and understands the steps he needs to take in order to move forward in aviation.” With high school graduation on next year’s horizon and Ross’ plans well underway, there is no doubt that he will be more than prepared for his quest to fly into the wild blue yonder.