Julian Martin piloted an airplane even before he obtained his driver’s license to operate a vehicle on the ground. 

The 17-year-old Buford High School senior recently earned his private pilot license.  

Buford resident Julian Martin receives his private pilot license. Photo submitted by Jackie Martin.

“This is a huge feat for anyone, let alone a 17 year old,” said Julian’s mother, Jackie Martin. “As well, the aviation industry is sorely lacking in representation of African American pilots. His aim is to become a commercial pilot one day!”

“I feel so free when I am in a plane,” Julian said. 

Julian became interested in aviation when he was in fourth grade. His family took a cruise for spring break, traveling to the island of St. Maarten and spending a day on Maho Beach, which is located at the end of the runway for Princess Juliana International Airport.

“That day, I spent playing in the sand as the planes flew over my head to land,” he said, “and that is what sparked my drive to become a pilot.” 

Julian’s first plane ride was a discovery flight he took his freshman year with an instructor at Aviation Career Enrichment, a flight school at the Fulton County Airport in Atlanta. 

“We flew around for what seems like a quick moment now, above the cities of Atlanta, Smyrna, and Mableton, looking at the objects on the ground,” Julian recalled. “It was a surreal experience and my phone was filled with pictures and videos of the excursion.”

Following his discovery flight, Julian began lessons and started his formal flight instruction. 

“About a year later, I participated in the Luke Weathers Solo Flight Academy through the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) where I did my first solo, flying a plane by myself, which was beyond a dream come true,” he said. 

During his junior year at Buford, Julian studied online at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, taking college-level courses in aviation and completing core education classes through dual enrollment. 

“This has provided me with more insight into the aviation world, working with like-minded peers and instructors,” he said. “It has not only fueled my passion but also helped me get a head start for college.” 

Julian plans to graduate early in December and while he hasn’t decided where he will attend college, he has been accepted to Middle Georgia State University and the Florida Institute of Technology for the spring 2024 semester.

“Becoming a commercial pilot has always been the end goal for me,” Julian said. “Ever since that day on Maho Beach, I have wanted to do whatever it took to sit in a cockpit of one of those jets.”

Julian is the son of Jean-Claude and Jackie Martin of Buford.

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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