A photo of Zane Rice in front of a plane.Zane Rice is flying high, now that he has earned his private pilot's license.

Zane, 19, completed ground school through San Bernardino Valley College's FAA-certified Aeronautics program, signing up for the course in spring 2019 during his sophomore year in high school. The Loma Linda resident has several pilots in his family, and his father encouraged him to take ground school in person rather than online for a more enriching experience.

"It was pretty clear I was the youngest person there, but they definitely welcomed me," Zane said. "We were all into aviation, we all found it interesting, so we all had that similarity. There was someone in their 50s taking the class too, so it wasn't just college students. It was a pretty diverse group of people, and everyone was really nice and got along and talked about flying."

Zane would go to high school and participate in extracurricular activities during the day, and then head to SBVC for his night course. His SBVC instructor, Larry Rice, knew how busy he was, "and was super understanding and really helpful," Zane said.

Larry — who is of no relation to Zane — was impressed by this hard-working student. "Zane is exactly the type of person we need in aviation," Larry said. "He understands the need for in-depth learning and understands the interactions between aviation disciplines, maintenance, flight, management, and weather."

Now a student at Walla Walla University in Walla Walla, Washington, Zane completed his flight training over the summer and officially earned his private pilot's license about a month ago. He is still undecided on whether he will choose aviation as his career, but will at least continue flying as a hobby.

Going to SBVC for ground school not only prepared Zane for getting his pilot's license, but also for becoming a university student, and he recommends other young people who are interested in flying consider taking a similar path.

"You get to meet people in the industry and learn about what others want to do with flying, and make connections," Zane said. "Taking a college class that early in high school helped me understand the differences between high school and college classes, and I think now I feel a lot more comfortable because I know how a college class works. It's also a lot nicer to go into a class and ask questions and talk with other people and study that way, instead of on the internet by yourself."