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Gem of the Week: Pilot's high flying adventure

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--This week's Gem is taking us to new heights - literally.

No matter where he is - you can catch him in the air.

Phil Thompson knows a thing or two about flying high in the sky.

It took Phil just 3 years to get a degree in aviation at the University of North Dakota.

“Flying planes always interested me even when I was a little kid,” said Phil.

The 22 year old from Lakeville Minnesota now works 50 hours a week as a flight instructor at the school.

“I don't consider it work, it's exhilarating every single day, it's not the same...the conditions are changing it makes for exciting work,” said Phil.

When he's not in the air - Phil has a lot to juggle - he's working on his masters.

“Mostly like to do spins.”

And on his second passion in life.

“I like the fact that with juggling you get the chance to push yourself and see what your own personal limits are,” said Phil.

When he isn't high in the sky - you can find Phil launching objects up, up and away....

“I just saw some videos on youtube and didn't see too many people around me doing it so I figured I would see what I could do,” said Phil.

He started juggling his junior year in high school. Today - he still juggles his schedule to make sure he gets 20 hours of practice in each week.

“I learned 3 pretty quickly, and then once you hit 5 balls it takes a lot longer to learn and after that its pure dedication,” said Phil.  

While juggling helps this pilot decompress after a long day in the air or in class - Phil says throwing objects like flaming sticks around also helps him maintain key skills he needs when flying in the sky.

“Staying concentrated over a long period of time, and never taking your eye off the prize.”

But don't expect to see Phil's high flying act at a circus near you - he hates performing in front of crowds - you will only catch him in the corner of the gym.

“A few times I see people putting their phones up pretending not to see me.”

Back on the runway - Phil is about ready to fly into the sky with another student. Come May - Phil will have a new schedule to juggle around. Endeavor Air has a seat in the cockpit reserved for him - as his career as a pilot officially takes off.

“I still can't grasp it, to be as young as I am and be able to become a pilot so early, it's a dream come true.”