May 28—Talon Alexander said he first realized he wanted to fly helicopters while participating in an Orofino baseball tournament at the age of 10.
Alexander, who graduates from Kendrick High School today, said it was around the Fourth of July and throughout the tournament, athletes and attendees alike were treated to a view of helicopters scooping water out of the Clearwater River to fight a nearby wildfire.
After graduation, Alexander will attend Silverhawk Aviation Academy in southern Idaho and he said that encounter with firefighting helicopters is what initially sparked his interest in becoming a career pilot.
“Playing baseball, and after the games, you were just watching the helicopters dip out of the river, and then fly up the canyon and put out fires,” Alexander said. “From that instant, I knew that I wanted to be a helicopter pilot and one of my big dreams, in the next decade probably, is to be an aerial firefighter.”
Alexander said there are numerous hurdles and certifications to overcome before a pilot can perform all the tasks involved in dousing fires from the sky, but he feels up to the task.
Even after that fateful day in Orofino, Alexander said sports were a central part of his student experience.
Born and raised in the area, he said playing sports is often part and parcel with growing up in a small town. He said he and many of his friends first met playing football in elementary school and grew together over years competing as a team.
Playing point guard for the basketball team was probably his favorite role, but Alexander said he also played tight end and cornerback for the football team, and pitcher and shortstop in baseball.
While he met many of his friends doing sports, Alexander said attending school in a small town comes with an air of camaraderie shared among students of all ages.
“It’s just the small-school atmosphere — you’re basically friends with everybody when you go to a small school,” He said.
Once he graduates flight school, Alexander speculated he may get his feet wet as a pilot in Alaska, potentially working with the logging industry or flying people on aerial tours of the state. However, his final aim will be to become a firefighter and Alexander said he hopes to return to central Idaho one day hinting he would miss living in a small town.
“The best thing about small-town life is just the community — everybody’s there in times of need for you, everybody’s there by your side,” he said. “I just really like a small community because you know everybody in your community, unlike a big city.”
Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.