Ryan Elliott — Solo Milestone

Ryan Elliott celebrated his 16th birthday with his first powered flight solo in a Cessna 172. Prior to this wonderful milestone, Ryan also soloed in an ASK 21 glider on his 14th birthday!

“Soloing, like everything worthwhile in life, requires effort
and dedication.” Ryan said.

For Ryan, aviation is everything. The clothes he wears are
aviation related, his backpack has squadron patches and a set of wings on it,
the wallpaper on all of his electronic devices are set to a photo of EAA’s
B-25, and his favorite accessory is a replica A-11 watch that he wears every

“Aviation is the
center of my life, it is what drives me, and takes me to new places emotionally
and physically,” Ryan said.

Ryan attributes
his interest in flying to his grandfather and father as well as RC flying.

“RC is part of what started it for me, and led me to where I am now,” Ryan said. “My father was the driving force in me catching the aviation bug. From the very beginning, I have always been enamored with flying and everything about aviation. My great grandfather, who was a World War II naval aviator, flying R4Ds and R5Ds, (DC-3s and DC-4s to nonmilitary aviation nuts) is also an idol and hero of mine, and is a large part of the reason that I fly.”

Ryan started few a flights in a CUBy and RV-6A before moving onto gliders and eventually the Cessna 172.

“Gliders taught me
some very useful stick and rudder skills that transferred right over to the
Cessna,” Ryan said. “Having glider solo time under my belt also greatly
prepared me for the academic side of flight training, as far as pre-solo
writtens, studying POHs [pilot’s operating handbooks], and other things of the
sort. When I finally returned to powered flying, all of the basics and skills
were rock solid from my glider experience, and it was a matter of transition
rather than relearning how to walk. This helped a lot with understanding every
aspect of powered flight.”

Ryan said the solo
flight in the 172 felt like any other flight. He had been flying patterns for a
few months and was very comfortable in that environment.

“I wasn’t very
nervous on either of my solos, and I felt in command of the aircraft,” Ryan
said. “Once you rollout on landing, after successfully having flown a solo, it
is the most redeeming feeling in the world. It is the payoff. In both power and
gliders, all of my hard work was devoted to that one goal, to solo. Once I
finally did that, a great cloud nine sort of feeling ensues.”

Ryan’s father, EAA
Vice President of Advocacy and Safety Sean Elliott, EAA 520258, said he
couldn’t be more proud of his son.

“Standing on the
ground watching him takeoff was a really special moment for me,” Sean said. “I
think what really helped him do such a great job during this solo was the
experience he gained from gliders.”

Ryan is working
hard to lay out a future in aviation. He currently holds a 4.0 GPA and spends
his time in the school cafeteria during lunch studying a POH.

“My long-term goal
is a career in the United States Air Force, and I have my college sights set on
either the Air Force Academy or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University,” Ryan
said. “As far as instruction, I plan to continue in the … Chicken Hawk, and
earn a glider private later this year, a power private at 17, and then see
where college and life takes me!”

Ryan’s advice to
young people interested in learning to fly is to never give up, even when the
going gets tough.

“I had a bad flight
in the 172 about a week before my 16th, but rather than wallow in sadness, or
worse yet, give up, I refused to let my emotions use me,” Ryan said. “I got up
at 5:20 the next morning, and studied the POH and traffic pattern procedures
for an hour straight, so that I would come back better than before. It is easy
to feel good when you are doing just fine, but when you get knocked down, you
must be hungry to get back at it, and stop at nothing to improve.”

Ryan said one of
the best things you can do in life is learn how to fly.

“Flying can take
you places in life you may have never thought possible,” Ryan said. “If you
want to learn to fly, you can find an affordable and accessible way to do so.
Looking for local flying clubs, and even just hanging around the airport can
spark something into action.”

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

Post Comments