RENTON, Wash. — Natalie Saslow was flying planes before she could drive a car.
She fell in love with flying just before her 14th birthday. You might say it was love at first flight.
"My first flight I was a little nervous because it was just something I had wanted to do for so long," Natalie explained. "And I got in the plane and it felt natural and it felt so right."
Her dad, Stephen, had started taking lessons himself and indeed noticed she had a knack for this.
"She was quick at picking up maneuvers, quick turns, steep turns, take off," Stephen said.
Two years after that first lesson, Natalie was ready to fly on her own, in what's called a Solo. Sixteen is the youngest age allowed and she did it on her 16th birthday.
The video documenting that flight went viral and now has close to 5 million views.
"I think the thing that connects in the video is Natalie's emotion. You can feel it as she's taking off, the excitement and the nervousness," Stephen shared.
But Natalie believes there was something bigger at play.
"I was in the plane and I was so nervous and felt totally alone and there was this presence that was there and I recognize that was my grandma who passed away a couple of years ago and I knew that it would be okay," Natalie said.
Natalie considers her grandmother to be her first passenger.
For future passengers, she would need more flight hours and she would have to pass the Federal Aviation Administration check ride and exam.
On her 17th birthday back in October, she passed with flying colors — making her the youngest pilot in the country... at least for that day. Seventeen is the earliest a student can obtain a pilot license.
"We were taxiing back and she was like, 'Congrats you're a private pilot.' It was an emotional experience because I was so proud of everything I had accomplished and worked so hard to get where I am today," Natalie shared.
Her next goal is to get her instrument and commercial rating so she can become an instructor.
But ultimately, her goal is to work for the airlines and travel the world.