Aaron Sless, 16, of Phoenix, was awarded the Civil Air Patrol's Billy Mitchell Award at the Towson Armory in Towson on Oct. 3.
Sless, a junior at Dulaney High School, learned to fly at Martin State Airport on a Cessna 117 owned by the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.
The award, given out since 1964, honors the late Gen. Billy Mitchell who was an aviation pioneer, advocate and supporter of an independent air force in America.
"This is a milestone achievement," said Maj. Robert Goodman, commander of the Civil Air Patrol's Towson Squadron. "Aaron had quite a few hoops to jump through to receive this award. He's an all-round hard worker."
Goodman said Sless, now a 2nd lieutenant, will continue to attend weekly Civil Air Patrol meetings at the Towson Armory.
Sless worked his way through the Civil Air Patrol cadet ranks, attended numerous training sessions and passed a 100-question exam covering leadership theory and aerospace topics.
He also volunteered at the Baltimore Air Show this summer and served meals to returning Maryland Air National Guard members. On Oct. 5, he set up a display at Dulaney High School in hopes of attracting new members to the Civil Air Patrol, which is open to anyone age 12 to 20.
Sless, who said he has wanted to go into the military since he was a child, hopes to apply to the Air Force and the Naval Academy.
"This award is equivalent to an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts," said Sless. "It took a lot of hard work but I'm really proud I was able to do it."