STEP graduate Ben Fluth living his professional dream at 35,000-feet
(05/09/19) Ben Fluth is living his dream above the clouds, which is right where he’s always wanted to be.
The 2005 Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP) and Andover High School (AndHS) graduate is living out his professional dream as an airline pilot and first officer for Delta Airlines.
“Ever since I can remember — as a little kid, being a pilot was what I wanted to do,” Fluth said. “And Anoka-Hennepin and the teachers at Andover and STEP — they’re why I am where I am now.”
And right now, Fluth is based in Los Angeles, flying 737s and passengers to places all over the country and beyond. “Hawaii, Mexico, places in the Caribbean, domestic flights — I’m flying all over,” he said.
His uncle was a pilot while growing up, and that’s how the seed to fly for a living was first planted, Fluth said, but it was his sophomore year at AndHS that things got a little more serious.
“In 10th grade I took an aviation science course and that really helped me figure out where to go and how to become a pilot,” he said. Specifically, he enrolled at STEP, which is a high school in a college setting where students in grades 11 and 12 can explore hands-on technical and manufacturing careers, such as aviation, while earning both high school and college credit.
“STEP really opened up a lot of doors in terms of seeing the different opportunities in the industry,” Fluth said. “It was an incredible experience — the kind of thing I didn’t know you could see in high school.”
While at STEP, he studied aviation careers under the guidance of Peter Groebner, the aviation teacher at the school, who himself was a pilot. “He pointed me in the direction I needed to go,” Fluth said.
“Ben was always an engaged and enthusiastic student,” said Groebner. “He was already setting his career goals in high school and obviously pursued those goals tenaciously.”
Groebner added, “It’s wonderful to see former students achieve their goals. It’s also comforting to know that a highly competent, highly trained and well educated Anoka-Hennepin student is moving thousands of people around the world at nearly the speed of sound.”
In addition to Groebner, Fluth said he was encouraged by counselors and teachers to talk to people in the industry to learn where to go for his post-secondary education, which turned out to be a flight school called the Delta Connection Academy in Florida.
“It’s not a college, per se — it’s strictly flying,” Fluth said. “I was down there for about a year and a half. Got all my hours and ratings in, and came back to Minnesota and got to work.”
First Fluth was a flight instructor himself, but eventually began work as a pilot for Endeavor Airlines for 10 years before moving to Delta more than a year ago.
Looking back at his own story, Fluth said he’d encourage today’s students to pursue their passions, because it just might turn into a dream career.
“Take every opportunity you can, whether it’s classes or field trips or chances to talk to speakers — get out there and open those windows to see what careers can be like,” he said. “For me, that opportunity was STEP. I never thought I’d be sitting in the front seat of an airliner a few years after high school, but I was. It was an amazing experience for me.”