LSU Student Earns 4th Airplane Pilot's Rating, Now In Top 6% In State

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Last week, LSU Engineering student Nathaniel Hand earned his rating to pilot multi-engine aircraft, which added to his commercial pilot's license, instrument rating and rating to fly a seaplane, makes him one of the most qualified pilots in Louisiana. He is 21 and took his 1st flight at age 11.

Ten years ago, at age 11, Nathaniel Hand flew in the co-pilot's seat for the first time, with his hands on the airplane controls and the instructor sitting next to him, gently executing a touch-n-go maneuver at New Orleans International Airport. He was too small to see over the cockpit, so he sat on an improvised cushion providing visibility to look out for 767 jets landing on adjacent runways. That was just the beginning.

Last week, Nathaniel topped off his pilot training by earning the rating which qualifies him to fly an airplane with two engines, requiring him to flawlessly execute maneuvers and handle landing with one engine suddenly inoperable. In addition to his multi-engine rating, Nathaniel is one of only 9% of pilots in Louisiana who have earned the rating which qualifies them to pilot a seaplane. Having worked the summers washing the salt water off planes so they would not deteriorate and filling seaplanes with gas at Belle Chasse's Fixed Base Operator, Southern Seaplane, a seaplane license just seemed the next logical step.

Nathaniel also earned the instrument rating, which the FAA requires for pilots to fly through the clouds, putting him in an elite club in Louisiana because only 6% of pilots have all four ratings. Nathaniel is a graduate of Newman High School and currently an engineering student at LSU, and Vice President of the PIKE fraternity. In just a few years, possibly on your vacation flight when you pass by the cockpit and peek into where the pilots sit, keep an eye out for Nathaniel and remember, he has wanted to be a pilot his entire life and has worked since age 11 to fulfill his dream and get you home safely.

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Robert Hand

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