Aviation for Girls


Aviation for Girls is a special annual member publication of Women in Aviation International for Girls in Aviation Day. Articles feature young girls living their aviation dreams, career ideas, and education resources.

Issue link: https://afgdigital.epubxp.com/i/867269

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Page 12 of 39

I started officially taking lessons with a certified flight instructor (CFI) at a nearby airport in a Cessna 150. It was the same CFI my mother, Andrea Olsen, WAI 74919, had when she got her private pilot certif- icate a few years before. I received about four hours of flight training, but stopped when school started in the fall. Throughout this time, we also worked on another project—building a new RV-14 from Van's Aircraft. Our family decided it would be a great plane to learn to fly in. In June 2016, we finished the kit, and Dad flew the new airplane for the required 40 hours of flying. I was his first passenger, and immediately loved the plane. While I flew as often as I could, school and life got busy again, so I took another break. After my volleyball season finished, I hit the books so I could take my written private pilot test. Dad was also studying to get his commercial rating and instructor certificate. He completed his ground instructor certificate and was able to sign me off so I could take my written exam. All my studying paid off, and I earned a 94 per- cent. Dad completed his CFI, and I was finally able to officially log the time we flew together in my pilot logbook. With my birthday coming up, we started flying whenever the weather was nice. Before solo- ing, I had almost 30 hours logged, so I was feeling pretty good. On my 16th birthday, I woke up at 6 a.m. to go to the airport. It was going to be a windy day, so we had to go super early before the winds picked up. The night before I lay awake thinking about ev- erything that could go wrong, all the "what-ifs." The nerves really got to me, and I barely slept. The day be- fore we completed three good takeoffs and landings, so I hoped my solo would go as well. We got to the air- port, and I did one takeoff and landing with Dad. I did a good job, and decided I wanted to go by myself right then. He hopped out of the plane, and I began taxiing, while they listened from the ground on a radio. Once I started taxiing, my fears sort of went away. It felt like every other time I had done this, so I focused only on the task at hand. I made my call and taxied onto the runway. After taking a deep breath, I pushed the throttle forward and took off. The airplane accelerated quickly and leapt right off the ground, free from the added passenger load. I felt this amazing sense of relief and pride. When I turned onto downwind, I saw a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds, so I took it as a sign from God that I would be okay. My first landing was great even with the winds. Now with more confidence, I repeated the series and did two more. In the upcoming year, I will be able to practice regularly, since the day after I soloed I received my driver's license and can get myself to the airport. I plan to do many cross-country flights, learn lots more from my dad, and have lots of fun. Flying is awesome, and I'm thankful for all of the amazing experiences it has brought me. As I grow, I want to pass on the lessons I've learned through my life of flying, and share them with anyone I can. Did you know? Joellen Drag Oslund became the first female U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, and was in the first class of female naval aviators in 1973. Photos: Tim Olsen 2 0 1 7 11

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