This month in solos: August 2012

The 24-hour news cycle is a blessing and a curse for general aviation. A curse, because now anybody who has ever had a gear-up, an emergency landing, or even a “hard landing” is likely to find themselves the subject of breathless-bordering-on-sensational coverage. A blessing, because the happy events of general aviation–like solos and certificates–are now finding their way into the mainstream media more often. From time to time we’ll post the good stories so that we, too, can celebrate the successes. Congratulations to all!

Christopher Tugman of Lynchburg, Va., soloed on Aug. 21 on his 16th birthday. Once you get past the “he’ll be flying before he’s driving!”, this is a well-written account by Alicia Petska in the Lynchburg News Advance that really captures the joy of a solo moment with a worried-but-proud set of parents on hand to watch the excitement. I loved the quote from his 3-year-old cousin, “You were really flying!” This teen is now on his way to influence the generation that follows him.

Hugh Barklem, 16, soloed a Robinson helicopter . You’ll be glad to know that in the United Kingdom, where Hugh’s solo took place, they’re also impressed by the fact that he has not yet learned to drive. Hugh also passed one of seven “air law exams” he’ll need to take before he can get a private pilot license, says the Hensley Standard.

These pilots didn’t solo, but I love this story. Two “seniors” earned their pilot certificates at Cleveland Municipal Airport. One was 17-year-old Ellen Falterman, and the other was 86-year-old Bill Malone. The two pilots live near Houston, Texas. This story appeared on YourHoustonNews.com.—Jill W. Tallman

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