By David Cheney, EAA 450036, Chapter 1 Ray Aviation Scholarship Coordinator
EAA Chapter 1 celebrated a huge milestone on November 21, 2020, when its Ray Aviation Scholarship recipient, 18-year-old Patricia Kackert, EAA 1380209, made her first solo flight as she works toward her private pilot certificate! Patricia and her flight instructor, Anthony Rizzo, have been following the Gleim syllabus for flight training, and she has accumulated approximately 22 hours of dual flight instruction, all in Cessna 172s.
Patricia — who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and volunteers during her “spare time” with EAA Chapter 1 and the Civil Air Patrol — made three picture-perfect solo landings on a beautiful southern California morning on Runway 27 of the Riverside Airport (RAL) in Riverside, California. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance, as were James O’Brien, EAA 618685, chapter president; Brian Duffield, EAA 1195585, chapter board member; Patricia’s very supportive parents, mom Betsy and stepdad Carl; and her brother and sister, Joseph and Elizabeth.
Patricia has many aviation aspirations that she would like to work toward once she completes flight training, including flying F-16s for the Air Force and becoming an emergency medical response (EMR) pilot. However, first and foremost on the list of Patricia’s goals is giving back to the same aviation community that has given her the opportunity to pursue her passion for aviation. Patricia now volunteers as a safety escort for kids attending EAA Chapter 1’s Young Eagles events, and she is always eager to share her flight experiences with them. As a private pilot, she plans to mentor girls and young women on the joys and opportunities in aviation, just as she had been mentored, and to give them the opportunity to take a Young Eagles flight with her. With her drive and passion for anything she tackles, there are no doubts in our minds that she will accomplish everything she sets out to achieve!
After her flight, Patricia was all smiles as she taxied the Cessna to the ramp and was greeted enthusiastically by all in attendance. She said the flight was exhilarating, challenging, and so very rewarding to finally take the controls of an airplane with no one else on board and to take off and land all on her own. And although she will cherish every memory of that first solo flight, she said that one of the best moments was when she rolled out on the runway after her last landing, turned onto an adjoining taxiway, and was personally contacted on the tower frequency by the RAL air traffic controllers to congratulate her on her achievement and a job well done! We also congratulate Patricia on her solo flight and look forward to watching her accomplish many more milestones as she pursues her passion for aviation!