During the last week of July, and first 3 weeks of August, 2015, six GKWFA students engaged in intensive glider flight training at Santa Barbara Soaring, located at Santa Ynez Airport, in California. After 150 training flights, three students soloed for the first time, a fourth student that previously soloed polished up his skills, and the remaining two made significant progress toward their solo.
Glider/soaring aircraft offer younger students the unique opportunity to solo at 14 and to earn their Private Pilot License – Glider (PPL-G) when they are just 16 years old. It also requires a higher degree of flying skill, since the absence of an engine makes a go-around from a poor approach impossible. “As I gave the takeoff signal on my first solo flight I thought, ‘Well this is it, either I come back dead or I come back alive, I guess we’ll see.’” said Emil Beaird. This intense moment of reckoning is quite common when students are soloing for the first time. However, Emil had been trained well and not only came back alive, but did so with great style and a good landing. “Soloing behind the towplane made me question my abilities, and I thought the flight would be very nerve wracking. However, I realized that I was ready, and I enjoyed flying without my instructor” said Asa Cusick, who greased his first solo landing.
Both Cusick and Beaird plan on completing their PPL-G by the end of November. “Asa and I have been studying for 3 hours every week for our licences. If I didn’t have GKWFA at my school, I wouldn’t be able to continue training for my license” Beaird said. “Trying to study during the year is more difficult because of school commitments, but being in the GKWFA program at Da Vinci Science High School allows me to have time set aside to do so.” Cusick added. A classmate of Beaird and Cusick, sophomore Jillian Morrow, plans to complete the glider training she began this summer during the summer of 2016. “The hours of studying per week are all worth the experience I am going to be encountering later in the future when receiving my glider license this upcoming summer. GKWFA gives me the possibilities to make my dream come true.” -Jillian Morrow
During the summer of 2016, GKWFA aims to facilitate the glider/soaring training of as many as 24 students. “We have an overwhelming number of dedicated and motivated students interested in completing the training. Our goal is to fundraise so that we can help make these students dreams become a reality” GKWFA Executive Director, Dan Mikkelsen said.
If you are interested in helping our students reach their dreams, please donate today to help make their dreams a reality.