Woodland Hills 17-year-old learns sky's the limit with U.S. Naval Flight Academy program

Irene Cruz Image
Monday, September 11, 2023
LA teen earns her pilot's license with prestigious Navy program
Kianet Badal, 17, spent her summer in the sky, as 1 of only 28 students selected for a prestigious Navy summer flight academy program.

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- They say "sky's the limit" when trying to pursue your dreams, and a student from Woodland Hills took this to heart. At age 17, Kianet Badal became a pilot thanks to the U.S. Navy summer flight academy.

Badal is a senior at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills. While most students spent the summer working part-time jobs or on the beach, Badal spent her time up in the skies, enjoying a bird's eye view of the landscape. She was one of only 28 students across the country selected for a prestigious Navy summer flight-academy program.

"I was honestly in shock because I was not expecting to get in," said Badal. "So when I did see that email, I was like there's no way! So I contacted everyone I knew, everyone that encouraged me to do it and said guess what, guess what?"

The eight-week course at Delaware State University is no easy feat. They had her flying on day two. Amid intense classes and hands-on training, Badal says you have no time to make mistakes.

"Getting onto the plane I was very anxious and honestly very nervous," said Badal. "I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't expect it to be this rigorous."

The Navy gives students a full scholarship, worth about $26,000 in training expenses. Badal passed the final tests and earned her FAA pilot's license.

Her ROTC instructor back home was very proud.

'It also opens up some different avenues if she wants to go into the military, if she wants to go to the academy, if she wants to become a military pilot, any of those things. She now has a feel for what that's like," said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Consoletti, naval science instructor.

"This exposure really helps shape some of that perspective, builds confidence in their decisions and really focuses on what they want to do in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Navy Cmdr. Chandra Newman.

So what's next for Badal? She's always had dreams of becoming a physician. But with her new love of flying, she might combine her passions - aiming to be an aviation doctor or surgeon.