Caroline Dougherty – Solo Milestone

Congratulations to Caroline Dougherty, who soloed her father’s 1918 Curtiss Jenny and a Taylor E-2 Cub on her 16th birthday, May 20.

Thanks to her father, Paul Dougherty, EAA 286844, Caroline has been immersed in aviation since her first flight in a Cessna 195 at 2 years old, and she’s had the unique experience of growing up with an airport right in her back yard — literally.

“My bedroom overlooks the runway, and I can recall various times when I was woken up by a plane taking off,” Caroline said. “I would jump out of bed and run to the window to watch. When I was 11 my dad took me for my first aerobatic ride in the Great Lakes, and that expanded my passion even more.”

Although her dad’s roles as president of the Golden Age Air Museum and as an air show pilot flying a Christen Eagle and 1930 Great Lakes have allowed her the opportunity to fly in unique airplanes and meet talented pilots, Caroline spoke humbly of her experiences.

She said as she was taxiing out for her first solo she attempted to recall the last time a 16-year-old girl flew a Jenny.

“I knew there are so many people that have accomplished their first solo, but I wasn’t just following in their footsteps, I was creating my own with something that hasn’t been done before,” Caroline said. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that I had, as I know it doesn’t come along every day. The experience felt like a step back in time to World War I when the Jenny was used as a trainer. When I fly it with my dad, right before we take off he’ll usually turn around in the front seat and give me a quick briefing. We have to yell back and forth to hear each other over the engine, and I can’t help but think that this is how they did it a hundred years ago.”

Caroline attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for the first time when she was 13 and said watching Patty Wagstaff fly her routine ignited her aviation spark to a flame, adding to her determination to work toward her pilot’s certificate. However, she said, she wouldn’t be where she is in her aviation journey today without the help of her dad.

“My dad has been involved in almost all of my aviation memories and experiences,” she said. “He is my biggest inspiration and has introduced me to the world of aviation. … Thanks to him, I’ve already completed one of my dreams, which was my first solo, and he’s currently helping me work towards others, such as my private pilot’s license and pursuing aerobatics. He took me for my first ever flight and my first aerobatic flight, both of which have had a major impact on my aviation dreams.”

Caroline’s dreams include to someday become an airline pilot and getting the chance to perform aerobatics in competitions and airshows, perhaps one day flying at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Congratulations again, Caroline, on your milestone accomplishment and well wishes as you continue pursuing your aviation dreams. We at EAA look forward to watching you from the flightline one day!


top photo by Richard J.M. Souza

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