SALEM TOWNSHIP — Mt. Abram High School senior Brandon Hemingway of Kingfield has his eyes on the skies and is working toward a career that will take him to new heights. Hemingway wants to fly – and he’s well on his way to taking off for a lifetime of living his dream.

Mt. Abram High School senior Brandon Hemingway plans to pursue a career in aviation. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

“When I was in fourth grade, we flew to Florida,” Hemingway said. “It was the coolest thing. After that trip, I thought maybe I could fly but as time went on, I started looking into other options.”

Options such as a career in plumbing. Hemingway is a second-year student in the Foster Career and Technical Education Center plumbing program.

Flying was never far from his mind. A series of events during his junior year helped nail down Hemingway’s career decision.

Hemingway said he met his girlfriend, Kassandra Nelson, last year at a rollerski camp in Winthrop. “She is from ‘the county’ which isn’t exactly close by,” he said. “Her dad has a pilot license and I thought that was kind of cool.”

Then Hemingway traveled to Costa Rica for a Spanish class field trip. “That was seven hours on a plane each way,” he said. “It was such an amazing experience that I started looking for places where I could fly privately.”

During Phillips Old Home Days in August 2018, he noticed Ken Morgan offering scenic airplane rides. “I thought that would be the perfect chance to go up in a small plane,” he said.

Hemingway approached Morgan for a flight. The two started talking about Hemingway’s desire to learn how to fly and before he knew it, Hemingway was sitting in the cockpit buckled into the pilot’s seat. Morgan, a Certified Flight Instructor, allowed Hemingway to taxi down the runway and control the plane in the air for 20 minutes.

“The second we landed, right then as I got out of the plane, I knew I would be getting a pilot license,” said Hemingway.

He started taking flight lessons with Morgan at the beginning of his senior year. “I really started thinking maybe plumbing wasn’t for me,” he said.

During a fly-in in Greenville, Hemingway spoke with a representative from the University of Maine Augusta. UMA is the only school in New England to offer an aviation program, he said.

“At this point, I was still looking into plumbing but really wanted to get my private license and ratings,” he said.

A high school career development assignment to conduct an interview pulled Hemingway even closer to flying.

“I interviewed a family friend and asked him what he enjoyed most about his career as a commercial pilot,” Hemingway said. “He told me he enjoyed being able to brighten people’s day by taking them to places like Disney. He said he liked seeing people’s faces light up their first time on a plane. That’s a pretty cool side to flying I never thought about.”

An experience during his plumbing internship solidified his decision to pursue flying as a career. “I was on a job site with my boss and the plumbing wasn’t quite right,” he said. “The sewer backed up. That was my turning point.”

Hemingway applied to the aviation program at UMA. Within two weeks he received notice he was one of 25 students accepted into the program.

Hemingway expects to have his private pilot license in the coming weeks. He plans to obtain ratings to operate different configurations of aircraft. “Whether it is multiple engines, floats or whatever, every set up requires a separate rating,” he said.

This move puts him ahead of the class and will allow him to skip the flight instruction portion of the first year of college. By the end of his third year of college, Hemingway is expected to become a Certified Flight Instructor.

After college, Hemingway isn’t sure which direction he will go but he knows he wants to stay as local to Maine as possible. On a small scale, he is thinking of working for a charter airline. Or, perhaps owning a charter service. On a larger scale, he is researching what it would take to own and operate a remote sporting camp.

“People could fly in, stay the night and go fishing,” he explained. “It would pair well with my dad being a guide. That would be like living a vacation.”

“In career development, we learned to set a destination but not a definite path,” he said. “You can always find your way to a destination but something may happen that takes you from a set path, which could lead to failure.”

Wherever his wings take him, one thing is for certain: Hemingway is passionate about being in the air.

“The view from 3,000 feet, looking in any direction is astounding,” he said. “Every time you go up, the view is different. For me, flying is fun and relaxing. To be able to get paid to do something I love to do will be amazing. I can’t wait.”


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