Rokicki’s aviation career takes off: Senior is second in family to acquire pilot license

By Grace Cueter and Christina Shea

When he obtained his pilot’s license on Feb. 18, senior Ethan Rockicki’s lifelong dream of becoming a pilot took to soar. Starting the process at the age of 16, Ethan Rokicki worked for two years, and in two different states, to become a licensed pilot. 

Throughout the process of obtaining his license, Ethan Rokicki faced weather challenges, a move across the country, and multiple lesson and test cancellations. His mother, Amy Rokicki, believes that his drive to learn and true passion for flying are what pushed him to work past those challenges. 

“I would describe Ethan as very self-motivated, disciplined, and focused,” Amy Rokicki said. “He has a strong desire to learn which has helped him master the practical aspects of flying.” 

Beginning his training in Florida and later moving to Michigan, Rokicki adapted to flying under various circumstances including differing airports and weather conditions. 

“When I lived in Florida, I started training at an airport called Tampa North,” Ethan Rokicki said. “I still had my student pilot when I moved back [to Michigan] in August. The weather is really bad here compared to Florida. It’s always overcast and rainy, and snowy. It’s something new every day.”

Getting a jumpstart on his future career is something that Ethan Rokicki has made a priority. One of his closest friends, senior Martin Daher, says that Rokicki’s commitment to mastering the art of flying and dedication to the things he loves is ultimately what made his flying journey a success. 

“He’s not afraid to be himself,” Daher said. “I think he is a goofy guy who will not take everything seriously, but the things he’s passionate about, he will take seriously. I admire that about him.”

Before a flight, the pilot must prepare the plane for weight balance, monitor weather patterns, and communicate with air traffic control throughout the flight. Daher notes that Ethan Rokicki has all of the qualities necessary to carefully and successfully plan and make quick decisions based on each unique flight. 

“I think that thinking freely without letting others judge him will definitely help him out because you will have to make your own crucial decisions, especially as a pilot, so being decisive for his own sake is definitely a good trait to have,” Daher said.

In addition to attending Jacksonville University in the fall, Ethan Rokicki will also work to further his flying education and ability. His current license allows him to fly single-engine airplanes under 200 horsepower, however, he hopes to gain an additional license that will allow him to operate larger planes with more passengers.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Ethan Rokicki

“I want to take it all the way up to an airline transport license for whatever job that wants to take me,” Ethan Rokicki said. 

In addition to everything that he learned from his flight instructors, Ethan Rokicki has been able to observe his older brother, a fellow licensed pilot. They are able to fly and operate a plane as a team, learning from each other and allowing Ethan Rokicki to gain experience in the cockpit with a professional. Amy Rokicki is immensely proud of both of her sons and feels safe entering the air with them in control. She is excited to see where their licenses take them.

“I did have the most wonderful experience flying with my oldest son and Ethan,” Amy Rokicki said. “I was awestruck on how my sons were able to navigate an airplane with such skill and professionalism.”