Flying to new heights


Photo illustration by Krista Fleming

Zach Carvajal flys a toy plane. It was the first plane he got as a child and is usually displayed on a shelf in his room.

He’s 10 years old on a vacation, bouncing with excitement as he sits in the cockpit of the plane. Unlike most kids, Zach Carvajal isn’t thinking of his destination, instead he’s thinking of how it will feel to launch into the air and begin his flight. The pilots must notice the excited look on his face because, in a moment Carvajal will never forget, they lean over to him and say, “If you like the cockpit so much, why don’t you become a pilot?” 

That’s exactly what Carvajal set out to do. 

Now a freshman, Carvajal has gotten involved in the school’s football and theater programs, along with monthly trips to the runway. 

“My family always traveled a lot and I think that’s where my love for flying came from,” Carvajal said. “There’s never a dull moment when I’m traveling with them. Seeing everything and being on top of the world — it’s amazing.”

Carvajal joined the Civil Air Patrol when he was 12 before receiving his pilot’s license earlier this year. He currently flies once a month and plans on pursuing flying further in the future. 

“Traveling is awesome, but when you’re up in the sky, you’re above everyone,” Carvajal said. “You know that people are going to be looking at you. They hear you, they want to see you. It’s kind of freeing.” 

His love of the spotlight doesn’t stop in the cockpit — it extends to the stage. Carvajal is a part of the advanced freshman theater class. 

“He can make a choice and make it bold, something a director always looks for,” freshman theater director Chelsey Thornburg said. “It doesn’t have to be the right choice, we’re just looking for someone to make a choice and stick with it. That’s something even high-level actors struggle with, and he already exhibits it.” 

Along with participating in theater class and the school musical, Carvajal was also one of only two freshmen cast in the fall production “Wings,” the first theater show of this school year.

“[Getting a part in “Wings” was] definitely an ego booster,” Carvajal said. “That was crazy. I was very surprised because I thought there were so many people better than me in my [advanced freshman] class.”

Rehearsals for “Wings” took place every day after school, the same time he had to practice with the freshman football “B” team. Carvajal managed to be a part of both by going to morning practices with the football team and two after school practices a week, resorting to attending rehearsal every other day.

“I have a lot of respect for anybody that tries to get involved in the school,” head freshman football coach William Farley said. “It shows work ethic and character; I have to admire that.”

Though balancing everything was rough for him, Carvajal said that he’s gotten a system down and is excited for what is to come for the rest of the year. 

“You can do anything you want and you can do as many things as you’d like,” Carvajal said. “You just have to plan ahead so you can balance it out.”