JASPER, Ala. (AP) -- Jordan Smith's mother says he fell in love with flying at an early age and was just one test short of earning his private license when the small plane he was piloting crashed after taking off from a county airport northwest of Birmingham, Alabama.
Sherrie Smith disputes reports from officials that her 17-year-old son and two friends took the plane without permission Tuesday night. All three teens died in the crash.
She said Wednesday that the owner of the Piper PA 30 had given Jordan his own key to the plane and the code to a security gate behind which it was parked.
She said Jordan had flown the plane many times and had earned a scholarship to Wallace State Community College to study aviation.