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Eastport-South Manor student makes grand prom entrance by piloting helicopter

Eastport-South Manor High school senior Nick D'Amato and

Eastport-South Manor High school senior Nick D'Amato and his date Danielle Mignonga flew to their pre-prom party with D'Amato as pilot of his boss' helicopter. #liproms Credit: Instagram / artonorato

Forget sleek limousines or party buses.

Nick D'Amato took his date to the pre-prom party in a helicopter -- that he piloted himself.

The 17-year-old senior landed smoothly Tuesday in the middle of the sports field at Eastport-South Manor High School in Manorville.

His date, Danielle Mignogna, couldn't help but be impressed after first getting an aerial tour of South Shore beaches.

"It was really beautiful," she said. "I typically hate flying, but when Nick asked me to go with him, I couldn't say no."

D'Amato got his pilot certification through the Eastern Suffolk BOCES program and took his first solo ride when he was 16.

"There's nothing like flying," he said. "It's so freeing; a way to get up in the skies and escape from it all."

To pull off his grand entrance, D'Amato recruited the help of the Manorville Fire Department, where he volunteers along with his father, Chief Sal D'Amato.

The landing was approved in February, but last-minute concerns by school administrators nearly stopped it.

"When we found out there were doubts, I went down to the school and spoke to them," Sal D'Amato said. "It was a matter of safety, but I assured them the fire department would adhere to all standards and make sure it went smoothly."

Tim Dahlen, owner of Clearview House Washing Service in Westhampton, granted the younger D'Amato use of his personal helicopter. The teenager has been an employee of Dahlen's for the past year and a half, working as a window washer.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I could trust him with my copter," Dahlen said. "I wasn't worried about him at all."

After high school, D'Amato plans to continue his aviation training at Eastern Helicopters flight school in Ronkonkoma. He wants to be a commercial helicopter pilot, giving tours over Long Island and New York City.

"He's 17 years old and he has a direction, which really can't be said for a lot of younger people today," his father said.

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