Congratulations to 16-year-old Madeline Patterson, EAA 1183808, who soloed August 25, achieving what has been a years-long dream to take to the skies.
“My interest in aviation was sparked when I was in 5th grade, when my parents noticed that I switched from yelling, “Horse!” every time we passed a farm to pressing my face against the glass at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, watching the aircraft take off and land,” Madeline said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to fly.”
She said a number of people have encouraged her throughout her aviation journey, including her grandfather, who allowed her to fly his Cessna 175 for portions of her flight training, and a military aviator family friend, who took her for her first general aviation flight.
Sitting alone in the cockpit for the first time, Madeline said she felt “eerily calm” getting ready to take off, and let her instructor’s advice play in her head. Although she said there were parts of her flights she believes she could have flown better, she was nonetheless proud of her accomplishment.
“After my third landing I was actually a little frustrated,” she said. “The landings were not as good as I had wanted them to be; I came in too fast all three times. Once I got back to the FBO, however, the excitement set in. My family was armed with an array of phones- taking pictures and videos- but my flight instructor was grinning. It was infectious.”
Madeline participates in Dungeness Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in Washington state, and said she hopes to someday give back to the aviation community by giving Young Eagles flights and encouraging other young aspiring pilots to work toward their goals.
“My advice is don’t give up,” she said. “All pilots, at some point in their flight training, have felt that dip, where their landings are suddenly horrible, and nothing is going right. They can’t seem to maintain their airspeed and all landmarks look the same. Don’t worry — if you keep persisting, that slump will fade away and before you know it your CFI will be signing you off to solo.”
Madeline has set the bar high for herself, aiming to become a pilot in the military, and with her drive and positive attitude there is no doubt that she will succeed.
“After my PPL I am applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where I aspire to be selected for flight school after that,” she said. “Whatever happens, aviation is my future.”
Have you reached a milestone recently? Passed a checkride, given your first or hundredth Young Eagle flight, flown your homebuilt for the first time? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.