The sky’s the limit: Jared Contant (12) earns pilot license


Courtesy of Jared Contant

Hannah Becker, Staff Writer

While most high school students are worried about staying on the right side of the road, Jared Contant (12) has already mastered the skies. At only 18 years old, Contant has obtained his private pilot’s license, allowing him to jet around the country. “I don’t think I would trade the feeling of having a perfect, smooth landing on a beautiful day after a great flight for anything,” he said.

Since earning his license in August of 2022, Contant has spent many of his weekends in the air, traveling to places like Lancaster, PA, Providence, RI, and Atlantic City, NJ, he said. He spends his weekends flying either alone or with an instructor, working on different techniques and logging hours to get his instrument license, Contant said.

Although the skies are now Contant’s happy place, he was once the screaming baby begging to get off the plane, he said. That hatred for flying began to change when Contant got older, and he and his father would sit outside the airport to watch aircrafts take off. “As I got more comfortable with planes, I thought it was so cool to be in the air and to have the freedom to go wherever you want, not worrying about traffic or what roads you have to take,” Contant said.

In fourth grade, Contant’s dream took flight when he purchased his first realistic plane simulator comprised of a computer system and a physical control stick mounted to his desk. He also signed up for a program that allowed him to talk to real air traffic controllers online, he said. “Because of how frequently I was using this technology, I had lots of knowledge about the plane controls, flying, radio phraseology, and background regulation that I could use later on.”

Contant then began working toward a student license, which would allow him to finally move past simulators and into the sky. After researching local flight schools and begging his parents to let him attend, Contant and his family settled on the Air Fleet Training Systems, located at the Essex County Airport in New Jersey, he said. 

At flight school, Contant learned how to take off and land, how to enter the traffic patterns, and how to perform the pre-flight inspections. Thanks to Contant’s extensive prior knowledge of flying, the instructor gave him a rare opportunity to pilot a plane during his very first lesson, he said.  “I had so many different experiences thinking about and practicing for that [first flight],” he said. “It was almost surreal to get there, and felt strangely similar to my simulator.”

After practicing for over two years, Contant completed the laborious process to get his pilot’s license, passing a written, oral, and practical exam, he said. Finally, Contant was able to fly unaccompanied, with passengers, and with cargo. He now spends his weekends furthering his pilot education at Essex County Airport, practicing different maneuvers to get his instrument license, he said. 

Contant would never give up flying, despite the challenge of balancing the school’s heavy workload and flight practice, he said. In order to make time for flying, Contant manages his time wisely. He researches planes during study breaks rather than watching T.V. or using social media, he said. “I treat flying like it is something fun to do rather than a chore.”

Contant’s flying experience has taught him to be adaptable and quick on his feet, he said. “While flying, if you spend too much time focusing on one thing, then another factor, such as the wind, is going to knock everything else off track,” Contant said. “You have to be constantly scanning, and not get tunnel vision.” 

Recently, Contant began flying his family members and friends on short trips up the Hudson River and East River. “I really like sharing experiences with other people, and flying is something that is inaccessible to a lot of people,” he said. “One of the greatest pleasures that I have is taking someone up in a small plane who has never been on one before.”