Dreams of flying airplanes started very early for Destrehan teenager

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2011



LAPLACE – Most teenagers are not expected to know where they will be or what they will be doing for the rest of their lives, but that is not the case for Destrehan High School senior Jeffery Boudoin.

In fact Boudoin, 17, said he developed his career path as a child while playing a flight simulator computer game.

“I have always been interested in flying,” Boudoin said. “I was addicted to this game. You couldn’t pull me away from it. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a pilot.”

Boudoin said his future career choice was further influenced during a plane trip to Dallas when he grabbed a seat next to a flight attendant.

“It was a Southwest flight, and we talked for the entire time we were in the air,” Boudoin said. “I got a chance to meet the pilot and learn more about the plane, what it takes to go through flight school and what schools were recommended for airline pilots.”

Flash forward to Boudoin’s junior year at Destrehan, where he is a member of the ROTC. He explained that one afternoon with nothing to do, he began to research schools, and he came across Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. He discovered the school had a summer program for prospective students, and he jumped at the chance to sign up for the weeklong camp.

“I had never been to Arizona in my life and never heard of the school before,” Boudoin said. “But as soon as I got out of the van and prepared for my first day, I knew I was where I wanted to be. The people and the environment just felt very comfortable.”

Although Embry-Riddle also has a campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., a little closer to home, Boudoin said his heart was set on the Prescott campus. He admitted he liked the idea of a whole new challenge in Arizona.

“I saw it as something to show my relatives — a real accomplishment,” he said.

Boudoin said his steadfast determination to be an airline pilot always caught his parents a little off guard. He said they would often brush the idea off as a child’s dream.

“They always saw it as like a kid saying he wanted to be president,” Boudoin said. “Once they realized how much it meant to me, they eventually warmed up to it. As long as I can remember, my favorite part of taking a trip was the flying. When I got to the destination, I was always bored but not while I was in the air.”

Boudoin explained the camp consisted of a series of classroom instruction in the basics of flying and how to operate simple planes like a single engine F-8. There were also weather classes on how rain, wind and other events affect flying conditions. The classroom instruction was followed up with simulator training, which led up to the real thing — a chance to pilot the F-8 himself.

“We flew during the day, where you could use the horizon to keep steady and also at night, where your only guide was the plane’s gauges,” Boudoin said. “It was a fantastic experience.”

Boudoin said he is looking forward to his senior year and enrolling at Embry-Riddle next fall with the hopes of eventually getting on as a pilot for Southwest down the line.

“I love the idea of piloting an airliner,” he said. “I love the feeling of helping people get where they need to go.”