Kensi Veatch earned her pilot’s license in 2021, at age 17 at Dream Flight School in Westminster. Read more about her journey to become a pilot and where it’s taking her next (above)

by Linda L. Esterson, photography by Nikola Tzenov

Know What You Need for Those Adventurous Activities

The weather is warming and our winter dreams of being outdoors in spring are close to becoming reality. Some choose long nature walks while others enjoy cheering on their children at the ballfield. Some are children at heart and look for new activities that will keep them young and quench their thirst for adventure. Learning to fly is just one of many adventurous activities that require a license or certification. Here’s a look at some options around the county for your own adventure this spring.

Piloting a plane

Securing a private pilot license takes a minimum of 40 hours, usually over 12 months. Dream Flight School at Carroll County Airport’s Jenna Broussard recommends two to three lessons a week, which incorporate one hour of classroom time and one hour in the air or in a simulator, based on the lesson plan and weather.

  • Discovery flight training introduction package ($199). 90-minute introduction to flight training. Includes a 30-minute classroom session and a 45-minute, 15-mile flight. The instructor conducts takeoff and landing, and the student operates controls in flight to get a feel for flying.
  • Private pilot package ($12,900; 17% discount). Includes 65 instruction hours, 45 aircraft rental hours, simulator hours, headset, checklist, oral exam guide and an aircraft book.
  • Licensure Testing (about $170). Written test must be taken at an approved facility. Usually runs around 2.5 hours.
  • Examiner’s check ride includes classroom and plane sessions over a full day. Approximately $700.

Dream Flight School, Carroll County Regional Airport

Flying a drone

People learn to fly drones for recreational and professional purposes. A license is required to monetize the use of a drone or fly within five miles of an airport. Most often, this is for aerial photography, according to Jeff Voigt, aerial photographer and instructor of drone courses at Carroll Community College. Recreational drone operators can fly unlicensed, but they must follow restrictions like limiting flying height to 400 feet, at under 100 mph, and always maintaining line of sight.
Carroll Community College offers non-credit courses and more arduous credit coursework to prepare students to become commercial drone pilots with an air license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts more than 100,000 drone-related jobs will be created by 2025. Courses include:

  • Remote pilot and aerial photo courses ($359 to $599, depending on course).
  • Commercial UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Pilot workforce training program ($1,996).
  • Includes 95 hours over four months. Primes students to sit for the Unmanned Aircraft General Exam and earn a Remote Pilot Certificate.
  • Written exam administered at an FAA-authorized testing center ($175 fee).
  • Carroll also offers an associate’s degree in drone technology.

Carroll Community College, Westminster,

Scuba diving and snorkeling

Three component parts comprise the requirements to become a certified scuba diver. These are academic, pool training and checkout, during which the student demonstrates mastery of skills to scuba dive safely.

Undersea Outfitters in Westminster, led by Laird Brown, is an SSI (Scuba Schools International) accredited training center.

  • Coursework comprises a minimum eight hours pool training in 2-hour blocks. If instructor feels student has acquired the skills, a checkout will be scheduled.
  • Academic training: eight sessions.
  • Checkout is usually a two-day event, generally over a weekend. Certification has no expiration date.
  • Certification class $800 plus boating fees
  • Students must own personal gear — mask, fins, snorkel, safety sausage, reel, boots. ($250-$500 depending on quality of gear.) Only available to those certified or enrolled in a certification course.
  • Undersea offers diving trips to Ocean City, Miami and the Bahamas.
  • Snorkeling does not require certification, but classes at Undersea Outfitters provide instruction on using and clearing the snorkel and looking for obstacles, Brown explains. Snorkeling class $250.

Undersea Outfitters, Westminster,

Fishing and crabbing

Fishing is a popular pastime in Carroll County. Several ponds and waterways, including Liberty Reservoir, Piney Run Reservoir and the Patapsco River not only provide serenity, they also offer perfect fishing. The Carroll County Office of Tourism ( provides a listing of the designated stocked fishing areas and trout waters.

Individuals 16 years or older are required to obtain a nontidal (freshwater) fishing license (also known as an angler’s license) before fishing in the nontidal waters of the state of Maryland. The annual license fee for a Maryland resident is $20.50. The fee for a resident, seven-day short-term, nontidal fishing license is $7.50, and can be purchased through the Department of Natural Resources.

The Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide published by the DNR Freshwater Fisheries Service provides specific information on size and creel limits of various species of fish. More information is also available at the DNR website.

During crab season, April 1-Dec. 15, individuals are required to have a license to use crab traps, net rings, seines or trotlines. Licenses are $5 for state residents and $2 for those holding a Chesapeake Bay & Coastal Sport Fishing License.

According to DNR, a recreational crabber may crab without a license 24 hours a day, seven days a week from docks, piers, bridges, boats and shorelines using only dip nets and any number of handlines catching up to two dozen male hard crabs and one dozen soft crabs and male peelers or a combination of male peeler and soft crab. A recreational license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries. Waterfront crab pots require registration.

Department of Natural Resources,


Maryland law states that anyone born on or after July 1, 1972, must possess a Boater’s Safety Certificate to operate any motorized vessel. This certificate is nonrenewable and must be carried at all times while operating a vessel. Officers may or may not ask to see the certificate during a vessel check and, if not provided, there may be a minimum charge of $25 for the first offense and up to $500 for each offense thereafter.


Carroll Community College offers two motorcycle courses, one for the new rider and a second to prepare those already on the road with the tools needed to earn a license.

  • Motorcycle Personal Safety & Licensure Review Course $309
    For the true novice rider who has little or no riding experience, this course includes a classroom component, an online component and riding instruction on the basic skills and strategies necessary to begin practicing street riding. Program training motorcycles are provided during instruction.
  • Basic Rider Course 2 — License Waiver $279
    Designed for riders with or without a permit who are currently riding and want to earn a motorcycle license or endorsement. An online e-course is to be completed prior to the in-person session. Program includes three hours of classroom and five hours of riding instruction. Students must fill out a liability waiver and bring license, registration and proof of insurance prior to class.

Carroll Community College, Westminster,

Shooting a Handgun

  • Carroll Community College Maryland Handgun Qualification License (HQL) Course $135

This four-hour course provides onsite classroom instruction on state firearms law, home firearm safety, handgun mechanisms and operation, and a component that requires the student to demonstrate the ability to safely operate a handgun. An additional one-hour session at a local firing range is scheduled to fulfill the hands-on demonstration of safely firing a handgun. Students must be 18 years of age to enroll. The class offers additional optional services and Essential Support Services (ESS) onsite visit for live scan fingerprint services, required for HQL processing, and HQL application assistance.

Carroll Community College, Westminster,

For those not interested in obtaining a license, the Hap Baker Firearms Facility, the county’s recreational range located in Westminster, provides individuals the opportunity to shoot at a range. No license is required, but users must sign a personal responsibility agreement prior to participation. In-county season pass $75. Lifetime membership $350.

Hap Baker Firearms Facility,

Prices and regulations subject to change.
Please research and contact provider for up-to-date information.

The Thrill of Flight

As a child, Kensi Veatch played at the BWI Observation Park. “I would watch these huge planes land and I was absolutely in love with transportation, trains, planes, cars,” she says.

At age 4, she asked her parents about becoming a flight attendant. Her father told her she would be too tall.

At 15, while on a trip, she commented to her mother that “if I could look at the stars like this professionally, I would, but I don’t want to work at a desk.” Her mom suggested she become a pilot, and after a 20-minute layover, she was on the flight deck. She was hooked.

Soon after, Kensi enrolled at Dream Flight School in Westminster, partly with the goal of one day becoming a commercial pilot. But she also wanted the opportunity to fly often. She enrolled during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and earned her pilot’s license in 2021, at age 17.

Flying, she says, makes her happy and provides a sense of calm. Initially, she looked into learning to fly as a potential career, but acknowledges it quickly turned into an adventure.

“I love being around the aircraft. I love being up in the air. … When you’re in a smooth cruise and see the sunset and it’s just everything starts lighting up and there is this feeling … this is awe inspiring and humbling.”

She lives by her catchphrase “There’s never a dull day in aviation” and revels in the opportunity to take friends on trips to Hagerstown to an excellent restaurant, or to Ocean City in Maryland or New Jersey, and see snow on the ground, fall leaves and beautiful sunrises, and sunsets from 6,000 feet in the air.

“You forget that you’re in a ball floating in space sometimes, but when you get up in the air, you can actually see the earth moving up instead of the sun coming down,” she says.

Now 19, she’s enrolled in the commercial pilot program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and she owns her own plane, a Cessna Skyhawk 172 that she purchased in March 2022. In the meantime, she expects to earn her flight instructor certification in June.

“I got into aviation partially because I like to look at stars, partially because I liked the cool hats — and the rest of the reason was to spread the love,” she says. “Aviation changed my life. If I can be the reason that somebody else flies in an aircraft and discovers their life’s passion, then I’ve done my job. The thought of being able to do that makes me so happy.”