Wichita Mallory Jennings had yearned for flight lessons since age 13.
She said she became "positively hooked" on flying after her parents gave her a Discovery Flight as a 15th birthday present.
And the 17-year-old Goddard High School junior took the first major step toward realizing a career in aviation on Friday, when she completed her check flight for licensing as a private pilot.
Jennings is the sixth student and the first female to complete flight training through the Urban League of Wichita's Young Engineers and Scientists Youth Flight Training program since it began in 2002.
Hesston College instructors provide the ground school and flight instruction, and graduates earn seven hours of college credit. Students pay $500 of the cost, while the Urban League pays $5,000 to $5,500.
The Wichita Urban League is the only one of the 111 affiliates of the national Urban League to offer pilot training as one of its educational programs.
The idea for the pilot-training program was initiated by longtime board member and aviation booster Frank Chappell, who said he wanted to make young people aware that there are dozens of careers in aviation beyond just being a pilot. Teaching them to fly, he said, exposes them to all the other facets of the aviation industry.
"They learn about the FAA, the weather bureau, airport management, airplane building, airplane mechanics, all of it," he said.
Jennings hasn't decided yet whether she'll become an astronaut, work for NASA in another capacity, or do something in aerospace engineering and design. She also hasn't decided which college to attend.
"There are just so many choices to make. I'll have to do some thinking about it," she said.
Meanwhile, Jennings plans to keep her options open and continue flight training.
"You get your instrument commercial license and you can fly freight," she said. "That pays pretty well. Nice college job."