By Dawn Krebs
MARTIN COUNTY -- Flying a plane is a dream many people spend years trying to achieve.
On March 7, Levi Schoeneck was able to reach that goal when he took off from the Stuart airport in a Cessna 172.
What made this accomplishment even more notable is that Levi is only 16 years old.
A student at South Fork High School, he says he's wanted to be a pilot for "forever."
"My uncle got his pilot license when I was 7, and he took us all for rides," Levi said. "That's when I knew that's what I wanted to do."
His dedication and determination came through when he started at the NET Aviation USA Flight Academy in Stuart when he signed up last year.
"He was the first person who starting flying lessons with us who soloed," said his instructor Jim Herron. "He just amazes me for his age."
Mr. Herron said that Levi was an exceptional individual, and that while most student pilots take about 25 to 30 hours to learn to fly solo, Levi managed to do it in 12.
"He's really an exceptional individual," Mr. Herron said. "He's got good motivation and goals, and his skill level is exceptional."
For Levi, flying by himself was more than just learning the basics.
"It's the thrill of it, of being up in the air, flying in a small plane," Levi said.
His future goals include becoming an airline pilot, but he's taking it one step at a time for now.
"My next goal is to fly longer distances," he said.
For those wanting to reach their own dream of flying a place, Levi had these words of advice:
"Don't give up," Levi said. "It can be hard at times. Just take each step as it comes."