‘I’m one step closer to my dream’

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Guam’s Lawrence C. Limtiaco became one of the youngest pilots to fly solo from Guam to Saipan at just 16 years old. He is now en route to becoming a naval aviator. (EUGENE HERRERA)

After flying over 100 miles solo at just 16 years old, Guam’s Lawrence C. Limtiaco says all the challenges he and his family faced to get to where he is today is all worth it because he’s now just a few steps away from achieving his dream of becoming a naval aviator.

Limtiaco, a junior at Fr. Duenas High School in Guam, has made it farther than many could only hope and dream at such a young age. At the tender age of 16, he not only made it as one of youngest pilots to fly from Guam to Saipan but he has also satisfied one of the key requirements needed to obtain his pilot license, which, in turn, would be valuable in his quest to becoming a naval aviator.

Limtiaco, who made his first solo flight from Guam to Saipan last Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, completed the first of the four flights that is required in order to obtain a private pilot license. Upon touchdown on Saipan in a Cessna 172P, Limtiaco flew to Rota, and returned to Guam afterward to conclude his solo flight at 12:14pm Sunday. He will be making a second cross country solo flight on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, following the same route.

When asked what he had to say about his 112-mile flight to Saipan, Lamtiaco said it was just fun to get it over with. “I felt it was fun and it was very adventurous. It was a very long three hours just sitting in the plane, but it felt fun to get it over with,” he said.

Still, he acknowledged that he felt a little nervous while en route to Saipan. “I was nervous. I was thinking whether I’d make it to Saipan or not. I was thinking of mostly flying and preparing for anything that could happen,” he said.

After complying with all the flight requirements, all Limtiaco needs to do is complete a Federal Aviation Administration written test and wait for his 17th birthday.

“I already have the minimum of 40 hours so I just need to take an FAA written test then wait ’til I’m 17 to get my check ride and become a private pilot. Having a pilot’s license will help me in the future when I go into the Navy and decide to become a pilot. I would still need to learn the basics but I’d already be familiar with them. I won’t have to learn everything from the beginning,” he said.

When asked about his inspiration in achieving all that he has, Limtiaco cited his grandfather.

“He worked for the Flying Tigers that flew from Guam to the islands and he was also a mechanic and he piloted both helicopters and airplanes. I remember when I was younger, he would tell me about it and I just wanted to become a pilot ever since,” he said.

Limtiaco also credits his success to those who helped him along the way like his family, friends, and especially his flight instructors.

“They were good at teaching me how to fly from the beginning when I didn’t know anything and also preparing me for the cross country, like reminding me what to do, how to communicate with air traffic control, like what to say,” he said.

Saipan Tribune also managed to speak with Limtiaco’s father, Larry Limtiaco, who was understandably very proud of his son’s accomplishment. “But I’m not surprised. I’ve always known Lawrence was special and he’s always had a gift. We just did all we could to help him pursue his dream. I want to encourage all parents to support their children’s dreams as much as they can. If not financially, support them by being there. It’s important to prioritize their happiness,” he said.

Limtiaco, is also a motocross racer and assistant commander of the second platoon NJROTC at Guam’s Father Duenas Memorial High School. Since the age of 12, Limtiaco had a goal to fly planes in the U.S. military.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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