ALBANY – Kevin Tully of Niskayuna turned 16 years old on Sunday, Jan. 15, and unlike most kids that age you will not see him driving around his neighborhood but flying a plane over it. He is receiving his pilot’s license days before his driver’s license. Tully who has had a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) student pilots license since he was 14 years old is unable to get a driving permit till Tuesday when the DMV opens after the long holiday weekend.
Tully has been flying glider planes out of the Saratoga County Airport since he was 12 years old thanks to the Adirondack Soaring Club, which has a low-cost pilot training program for kids under the age of 18 years old. At 14 years old, Tully was issued his FAA student pilots license and has piloted a glider plane as high as 10,000 feet over Saratoga County all by himself. Tully started to fly a powered plane at 15 years old with an instructor and accomplished all the tasks necessary to fly a plane without an instructor (called a “solo”) upon reaching the FAA minimum age of 16 which is Sunday.
Because you must be 16 years old to legally pilot a powered plane (14 to pilot an unpowered glider) without anybody else in the plane, that means Tully will be the youngest legal pilot in the air for that day. In addition to being one of the youngest legal pilots in recent United States history, Tully is also an Eagle Scout, and holds a black belt in Taekwondo having practiced since he was six years old at Pai’s Taekwondo in Schenectady where he credits its Master with teaching him the skills of planning and determination that he needed to become the youngest Pilot in America on January 15.