A Pasco County teen is learning to fly as a form of therapy, and the autistic boy says he's never been more confident.

His parents say that it's showing in his school work.

  • Nick Dester got hooked on flying after a class trip
  • His father said it's helped with confidence, school work
  • Teen, who has autism, said his stresses go away in the air

Under the wing of a plane is where you'll find Nick Dester when he's not at school.

The 15-year-old can't get enough of flying -- a hobby he picked up about a year ago after his class took a trip to the airfield in Zephyrhills.

"I just kind of go and just fly and look at the scenery, and it calms me," Nick said.

But it's a bit more than that, said his father, Chris Dester.

"There's no coincidence between the confidence level that he got from taking lessons to his grades going higher, his friends list being a little longer," Dester said.

"Even at church, when we go to church, he's now into groups that he would never have the confidence to jump into before."

Nick struggles with his autism except during moments when the pre-flight checklist is complete and the engine is started.

"You feel butterflies in your stomach when you go up," he said. "And the second you get off the ground and you know you're in the sky, it all kind of releases at once. And it feels really nice."

The weight of the world is lifted off his shoulders as he flies high above it.

"All your stresses just kind of go away," he said.