Marcellus Boykins became fascinated with the idea of flying planes after watching the movie, Top Gun, during his childhood.
The former Ceres High School standout athlete is determined to make his dream of becoming a pilot a reality.
“From a young age, I was into aviation,” said Boykins, 21. “Playing flight simulators through Microsoft made my interest grow even more. I went to my first air show last year and talked with pilots from the Air Force and commercial sector. From that point on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. The following week, I went on a Discovery Flight.”
Boykins started taking flight lessons at the Lake Charles Regional Airport last November in Southwest Louisiana.
“My flight instructor took care of the radio and taking off,” Boykins said. “Once we got to altitude, he let me take control. We flew for an hour. Initially, it was scary. After the first 20 minutes of doing some maneuvers, I felt a little sick. Once we leveled the plane, I felt a lot better. The best part was it was almost evening time. It was a clear day, the sun was setting and you could see the Gulf of Mexico. It truly was an experience. Not many people get to see that. It’s something I’ll never forget. I walked out of the airport with a smile on my face and couldn’t wait until my next lesson.”
Boykins has completed 10 hours of training in a Cessna 172 since April.
“The training is incredibly challenging,” he said. “Once you’re proficient, you have to know the rules and regulations. Being a pilot is about decision making. If you don’t make the right decision at the right time, the affects could be life-threatening. Having confidence in your own abilities, but not having overconfidence, is one of the keys to being successful.”
Boykins should obtain his private-pilot license this fall.
“I’ve taken and passed the written portion of my test,” he said. “After a few lessons, you get more comfortable. It’s kind of like driving a car. I plan on becoming certified by August of this year. I’ll start my solo flights.”
Boykins is a member of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.
“It’s a great community,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of networking.”
A junior natural sciences major who’s minoring in mathematics and communications at McNeese State University, Boykins plans to work in the Air Force Reserve and commercial sector as a pilot after graduation.
“My high school coach (Brett Johnson) always preached victory starts in the mind,” Boykins said. “Nothing can hold you back if you truly believe you can accomplish it. That’s something I’ve carried with me to this day and have applied in academics, athletics and flying.”
Boykins was named the McNeese State University Athletic Department’s Community Impact Student Athlete of the Year on April 29.
A member of the college’s track and field team, Boykins helped organize a toy drive around Christmas time for underprivileged children in the Lake Charles area for the second year in a row through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
He also founded a campus-wide recycling initiative at McNeese State last November.
Boykins graduated from Ceres High School in 2017.
Seeded 15th, Boykins soared a personal-best 44 feet, 3 inches en route to an eighth-place finish in the triple jump at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet during his senior year.
He took third at the Division-IV-V finals and second at the WAC championships.
A three-year starter at receiver in football, Boykins caught 151 passes for 2,144 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He ranked fifth in the Sac-Joaquin Section in receptions (78), ninth in yards (1,145) and 10th in touchdowns (9) as the 2016 Bulldogs posted a 4-6 overall record and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference standings (2-3).
Boykins earned first-team, all-WAC honors as a senior and sophomore.
He played in the Central California Lions and North-South Rotary all-star games.