Teen Certificated In RV He Helped Build

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Plenty of kids grow up around airplanes but not many are raised building the airplane in which they take their checkride. And to top it all off, Blake Crawford was signed off on his 17th birthday by a world-renowned aerobatic pilot who is also an FAA examiner. Debbie Rihn-Harvey, three-time national aerobatics champion and Southwest Airlines pilot, confirmed Crawford as the U.S.'s youngest certificated pilot last week after putting him through the paces in the RV-7A he and his father built throughout his childhood. Crawford was "bucking rivets at a young age," said his flight instructor Valerie Vaughn, of Dutch Wings Flight School at Houston Southwest Airport.

Vaughn said Crawford did most of his dual and solo work in the RV, including his first solo and his cross country. He said he's a "natural pilot" who was a "joy to have as a student" but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily make aviation his career. "Blake is in high school and is planning to pursue engineering as a career," Vaughn said.