Skyward Bound: Horlick High’s Trailblazing Drone Pilots

A New Era of Aviation Takes Flight in Racine

In the heart of Racine, , a remarkable story unfolds at Horlick High School, where three ambitious students have soared beyond traditional educational boundaries by earning their drone pilot licenses. This achievement not only sets them apart in the rapidly evolving field of unmanned aviation but also marks a significant milestone in the school's innovative aviation pathway program, reports Journal Times.

From Backyard Hobby to Licensed Drone Pilots

The journey to licensure began with Jonathan Bouwma's simple Christmas gift—a drone that sparked not just a hobby but a pathway to a burgeoning career. Alongside classmates Natalie Shawhan and Chris Palkowski, Bouwma transitioned from backyard flights to the rigors of aviation class, where they delved into textbooks and prepared meticulously for the drone license exam. Their success story is the latest in a growing trend at Horlick, where students are increasingly drawn to the possibilities that presents.

A Gateway to Future Opportunities

The trio's achievement underscores the vast potential of drone technology across various sectors, from media and construction to firefighting and law enforcement. Natalie Shawhan, eyeing a future in nuclear engineering, views her FAA drone license as a valuable asset, opening doors to numerous career opportunities. Jonathan Bouwma, inspired by his grandfather's firefighting legacy, sees his new skill as a tool for public service. Meanwhile, Chris Palkowski's venture into this field is driven by the sheer fascination with unmanned aerial vehicles and their capabilities.

Challenges and Aspirations

Under the guidance of James Bucholtz, the Horlick aviation teacher, students have explored the multifaceted applications of drones, gaining practical experience that extends beyond the classroom. Whether it's aiding the school's maintenance crew with aerial inspections or capturing the community's landscape from a bird's-eye view, these young pilots are already making tangible contributions. However, Bucholtz notes that expanding the drone program faces financial hurdles, with the high cost of drones posing a significant challenge.

A Community's Pride and Progress

As Horlick High School celebrates the achievements of its new drone pilots, the story of Bouwma, Shawhan, and Palkowski serves as a beacon of innovation and ambition. Their journey from curious students to licensed drone operators is not just a personal triumph but a testament to the educational community's commitment to embracing future technologies.

As drones continue to play a pivotal role in various industries, the foresight of Horlick's aviation program ensures its students are not just prepared for the future but are actively shaping it. With each flight, they're not only surveying the physical landscape but charting new territories in and career possibilities, ready to lift their community and their futures to new heights.

Photo courtesy of Journal Times / Ryan Patterson.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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