BY Dollita Okine, 3:30pm March 01, 2024,

21-year-old pilot who got his 1st college degree before graduating high school set to earn his 3rd

Martindale-Hernandez, who received his private pilot certificate approximately a week before his 17th birthday, still aspires to fly professionally someday. Photo Credit: Embry‑Riddle

At the young age of 21, Kegan Martindale-Hernandez already holds two degrees and a third is on its way. Martindale-Hernandez was born in Connecticut to parents who both had Caribbean-based businesses. Though he spent some time in New York, the young genius relocated to Georgia when he was nine. 

He told Embry‑Riddle that he found his passion for aviation and engineering at an early age, saying, “As my mom says, I was about 2 when I started pairing my joystick to the television. I was always curious about how things were made and how they worked. My parents bought me my first LEGO blocks and I started creating planes, trains, and boats with them. I still have those blocks in my special bin to this day.”

His interests grew with maturity, and he developed a passion for astronomy, meteorology, and flight safety while continuing to construct things. The young entrepreneur co-wrote his first book, “Sweet Flight!” in 2022 with his mother, Blossom Martindale, since he wanted to impart his viewpoint on aviation and aerospace to the next generation.

It was meant to encourage young people to follow their passions by capturing the lives of a five-year-old child who fell in love with flying and “the loving family who supports his dream.”

He explained, “My mom fostered the idea with me because she wanted me to capture my early moments on my first plane trip and explore how my creative mind and engineering brain worked together. I always wanted people to have a great flying experience, so we wrote about what I would have wanted for my family to fly comfortably in the skies.”

Martindale-Hernandez, who received his private pilot certificate approximately a week before his 17th birthday, aspires to fly professionally someday.

The teen said that he struggled in high school and felt “bored” and “quite miserable” sitting in courses every day, causing him to become disoriented and alienated. His grades soon began to suffer. Subsequently, his mother registered him in an Aviation Career Enrichment program, which was established in 1980 by Julius Alexander, a former Atlanta high school teacher, broadcast journalist, and Lockheed Martin spokesman.

Martindale-Hernandez later learned about Embry-Riddle’s summer learning programs and dual enrollment options at its Worldwide Campus. In April 2020—a month before he graduated from high school—he received an A.S. in Aeronautics.

“Completing my dual enrollment in high school also helped offset the cost of having to pay a full four-year tuition,” he remarked.

He was able to quickly enroll for his bachelor’s degree at Worldwide after that, thanks to his improved credit scores. Eventually, he was directed to a scholarship, which paid for the final two years of his bachelor’s degree.

The 21-year-old, who now has two degrees and is pursuing a Master of Space Operations degree, remarked, “The plan is to work as a commercial pilot and then in the commercial aerospace sector later in my life, hopefully for NASA at Cape Canaveral or Houston.”

In an expression of gratitude, he revealed his intentions to take his mother and her friends on a first-class flight to Italy after getting his commercial pilot license.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 1, 2024


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