Deciding on a career path can sometimes be a long and confusing process for many students, but not for Alicia Hayes.

The 17-year-old from the South Australian wine region of Barossa Valley has had her eyes on the sky and a career in aviation for the past 10 years.

Her inspiration to fly came from her grandfather, who has been flying light aircraft since 1989.

“When I was seven he first took me up and that’s when I pretty much knew straightaway that I loved it,” Alicia said.

“From that day on I knew I wanted to do aerobatics and fly planes.”

It was a four-year wait before the budding pilot took her first flying lesson at Murray Bridge on her eleventh birthday.

Alicia Hayes had her first flying lesson with her grandfather when she was 11.(Supplied)

Her fifteenth birthday saw another major milestone; flying solo for the very first time.

Leaving the earth’s surface brings a sense of freedom unmatched by anything else Alicia has experienced.

“I feel free when I’m up there, you don’t get the same experience when you’re on the ground,” she said.

“Everything that then happens on the ground is just gone, it’s quiet in a sense.”

Flying her grandfather’s plane, Alicia completed her private pilot’s licence in 2022, while studying year 10, and has amassed 170 hours of flying.

Now in her final year of school, the teenager said juggling the demands of both flying and studies can be challenging.

“It’s tough at times, but knowing that if I do well in school I can keep flying so, it kind of goes both ways,” she said.

Alicia Hayes was 15 when she flew solo for the first time.(Supplied)

Supporting Alicia’s aviation journey is her grandfather, Patrick Hayes, who carries an enormous sense of pride in his granddaughter’s flying.

“The feeling you get are, ‘Gee I’m a part of all this’,” he said.

“She’s done a pretty good job in her own right but wow, I like being part of it too.”

The duo regularly go flying together and share a special bond.

“Given the time that Alicia and I have been together, we figure we’ve got so much in common we’re like peas and carrots,” Mr Hayes said.

The pair will both be flying at the inaugural Aldinga Airshow on Sunday, with Alicia the youngest pilot taking part.

“It’s extremely cool because he’s the one that got me into flying, to have him there with me is kind of showing that’s where I got my interest from,” she said.

Alicia and Patrick will both fly at the Aldinga Airshow on Sunday.(Supplied)

Mr Hayes shared the same excitement.

“It’s really fantastic to do it here, given we’ve been involved with Aldinga all the way through her training,” he said.

“We love this place and it will be fantastic to be in the airshow at the same time.”

While she has not yet completed her aerobatic endorsement, Alicia is thrilled to be part of the air display.

“I’m just going to be doing some gentle flying, low-flying … gentle turns displaying the aircraft and my capabilities,” she said.

The airshow, which is expected to attract more than 10,000 people, has a focus on women in aviation.

Organiser Patrick Normoyle is using the opportunity to celebrate women in the male-dominated industry and inspire the next generation of women.

“There’s not a lot of women in our career path and our love of aviation,” he said.

“If we can inspire a lot of women through Alicia and Emma McDonald, Wendy Wills and some of the other women that are performing on the day, they can see what’s possible.”

Alicia has her sights set on a career in the sky.

“A lot of young girls don’t think it’s a possibility because they don’t have any role models,” she said.

“After I finish school I’m going to get my commercial licence and works towards that and hopefully when I get enough hours I’ll work for the RFDS which is my ultimate dream goal.”