Nightly News   |  October 10, 2013

JetBlue pilot inspires young aviator

The sky’s the limit for one young man who has dreamed of a career in aviation ever since a chance meeting with a JetBlue pilot. Now, the two have reconnected and the pilot, Captain Eric Scott, is acting as his mentor. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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>>> finally here tonight the power of a chance meeting and the inspiration to explore new heights. it's a story about a boy who meets a man and, as the saying goes, wants to be just like him. as ron mott reports tonight, the young man is on his way.

>> reporter: as an airline pilot .

>> welcome aboard jetblue service to west palm beach .

>> reporter: eric scott meets and greets countless people, faces in a crowd really.

>> sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

>> reporter: little did he know the impression he made on a wide-eyed 5-year-old who stopped by his office ten years ago.

>> what i remember most about it is the little kid so enthusiastic, motivated. just like i was when i was a kid.

>> i went up there and all of the sudden i was in another world.

>> reporter: now 14 and a 10th grader, e lijah was so captivated he kept the photo in his bedroom for inspiration, dreaming of his own career in aviation.

>> first time i i saw him he became my role model. he was a black man being a pilot. a job i wanted to do.

>> reporter: he eventually reconnected with captain scott who was eager to mentor him.

>> black pilots have been in the air for generations, most famously the tuskegee airmen . that's something captain scott wants to change. grew up poor in panama, learned epg lish as a second language, caught the flying bug around the same age as e lijah. he began flying for jetblue and helps new pilots.

>> young black men and women feel there is a certain path they have to follow. i want to see that change. i want to see more black men and women in the cockpit.

>> we want to show you that it is possible. you can pursue your dreams, continue forward and have a wonderful career. that's what i'm doing.

>> reporter: captain scott encouraging elijah into the skies. his message is resonating.

>> if you work hard and dream the hard enough, you can do it. but dreaming just doesn't get you all the way. it can only get you halfway. you have to work, work, work.

>> reporter: working to fortify a small but growing fraternity. where going solo doesn't fly. ron mott, nbc news, new york.