Nicolas Burrows is ready to take flight from Mt. Spokane High School in more ways than one. He’s graduating with plans and he’s had his private pilot’s license since last summer.
“It’s like a new dimension,” he said of his love of flight. “You get to see things from a different point of view.”
He started taking flying lessons in 2015 and had his first solo flight on Oct. 16, 2016.
School counselor Jamie Goodman said the school wanted to recognize Burrows for his accomplishments in the classroom and outside school. “He is a 4.0 valedictorian, has a special hobby and has been building an airplane for years,” she said.
Burrows’ love of flight isn’t unusual, however, if you consider that his father owns Burrows Aviation at the Deer Park Airport, which offers airplane maintenance, repair and restoration. “Growing up I always built RC aircraft,” he said.
Burrows has been in the Spokane area since 2012, but has moved around a bit. He lived on Five Mile Prairie, then was in Deer Park for a few years. He’s been at Mt. Spokane High School for two years.
A few years ago Burrows was building a J3C plane from scratch, which has a 12-foot wingspan. He worked on it for two years before it was destroyed in a windstorm that toppled trees and ripped apart his father’s hangar at the airport.
When he was considering what to work on next, his father suggested a full-size airplane. Since 2015, he’s been building a Legal Eagle XL with a 36-foot wingspan from hand-drawn plans he received in the mail. He does his own carpentry and metal work, but said his father helps with the welding.
He’s mowed lawns in the summer to make money for the plane, but he hasn’t been working on it much during his last year of high school.
“School is basically my job and you should do everything you can to be good at your job,” he said.
Burrows said school sets a good foundation and he wants to do well at it. “I don’t get things immediately, but I definitely put in the work,” he said. “It’s nice to have really good teachers along the way. That helps a lot.”
He hopes to finish the plane this summer. His father also built a plane when he was a teen and then sold it. Burrows said he’d like to keep his. “I want to keep it as long as I can, just as a memento,” he said.
He’s proud of his GPA and turned it into a Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to pay for college. He plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College for the first two years.
After that, though, the future gets a little fuzzy. He hasn’t decided yet if he wants to pursue a degree in engineering at the University of Washington or go to flight school and become an airline pilot. He’s also thought of working for NASA or Boeing.
Burrows said he expects to make his final decision by the time he finishes at SFCC after he has more time to consider what he wants and talks with his family. “We’ve definitely talked about it,” he said.
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