The future is looking bright for recent Burbank High School graduate Brian Di Mascio.
Di Mascio was born in Belleville, New Jersey, and moved with his family to Burbank following a job transfer for his father. Di Mascio attended elementary school in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, while living on the East coast, and subsequently began his seventh grade year at John Muir Middle School following his family’s relocation to the City.
One of his early pastimes in the Burbank community was found during a serendipitous club rush event. While exploring an event booth at his school, Di Mascio discovered First Robotics Competition 980, a nonprofit organization whose mentors guide young students through hands-on, fast-moving robotics projects. During this process, organization team members are allotted six to eight weeks to build a robot from scratch after receiving objectives from their mentors. Although engineering was initially foreign to a then-green Di Mascio when he first joined FRC 980, he learned the ropes of robotics quickly and ended up serving two years as team captain leading up to his high school graduation.
“You get to really learn how to lead, and lead in an engineering environment,” Di Mascio said of FRC 980. “It’s a really great program.”
Along with pursuing robotics, flying planes has been a consistent passion of Di Mascio’s since his early youth. When he discovered the United States Air Force auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, he soon began taking steps towards learning how to fly. By age 12 he’d begun to fly planes under CAP instructors, and by his mid teens he earned his pilot’s license through the Youth Aviation Initiative. While the cost of securing the license can typically range anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, Di Mascio applied for and was awarded as a recipient of the CAP Cadet Wing Scholarship, which covered the majority of these expenses. This, along with instruction from CAP personnel and dedication to studying for written exams, ended with Di Mascio reaching his goal of becoming a pilot’s license holder. He was uncertain if he’d enjoy flying in real-life scenarios upon starting this journey, but Di Mascio’s first experience controlling a plane swiftly melted these anxieties away.
“At first I wasn’t even sure if I would like it,” Di Mascio said. “You know, I’ve always loved flying, but I thought maybe once I got really into the weeds of it that I would get in over my head, or I wouldn’t be sure if I could do it. But then that first flight with my instructor when I got the scholarship was just incredible. You just kind of feel one with the airplane…It kind of feels like an extension of yourself.”
These significant accomplishments of Di Mascio’s have led to recognition from prominent dignitaries in his chosen field of study and top California legislators. In 2021, Congressman Adam Schiff nominated seven students from the 28th Congressional District to U.S. service academies for the graduating class of 2025. Di Mascio was one of Schiff’s seven chosen students, and received his nomination to attend the Air Force Academy. Additionally, In February of 2021, Di Mascio was able to virtually interview former CIA Director and United States Army General David Petraeus for his YouTube channel. The two discussed leadership, national security policy, and Petraeus’ life experiences during the insightful discussion.
“That was probably one of the coolest things I think I’ve done,” Di Mascio said of interviewing Petraeus. “I think something I learned from my experiences with other high ranking flag officers…is how surprisingly down to earth they are…[Petraeus] was a CIA Director but he still talked to me like we were on an equal playing field…The way that they act really sets an example for leadership and I learned a lot from that conversation.”
Art is another interest of Di Mascio’s that takes up his time away from flying. Drawings and digital creations of subjects such as airplanes, the solar system, and skylines, namely the New York City skyline, are some of the works he’s created as a freelance artist.
“I didn’t even try to sell [my art] on purpose,” Di Mascio said. “I posted some of them…[and] somebody said, ‘Hey can you draw this? How much are you charging?’ I’m like well, [I’ll] make up a thing on the spot and then [through] word of mouth, later I’m selling artwork…so that’s been pretty fun.”
Currently, Di Mascio is attending private school Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona while participating in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. From here, he plans to move on to pilot training in the U.S. Air Force and eventually work with European pilots through Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. If history repeats itself, Di Mascio will continue to achieve success in approaching his long list of goals, although he says he would find satisfaction in pursuing his sincere passion of flying in any capacity.
“I could fly anything and I would be happy,” Di Mascio said.