By Alden Frautschy, EAA 629986
Maybe if I say it one more time, it’ll finally sink in. I soloed.
I grew up around aviation. I’m one of those rare few who doesn’t remember their first airplane ride, mostly because I was a baby. My dad put me in the Aeronca Super Chief he and my mom owned and took me for a ride around the pattern. Some of my earliest memories are my dad teaching me personally to fly a family friend’s Champ. I was barely able to see out but he still showed me how to keep the airplane level with a trick I still use from time to time (keep the bottom of the wing parallel with the horizon and you’re good). My family spent our summers in an Aeronca Sedan he takes care of, flying all around the particular Midwest. All my toys were airplanes. I read books about airplanes. I drew pictures of airplanes. I actually built models of airplanes. My partner and i loved airplanes and all I wanted was to be a pilot.
While I decided to become an air traffic controller, rather than a professional pilot, I started the process of learning to fly in 2009. I went in order to get my 2 nd class medical and was denied because of a physical and a learning disability. I was given the battery of tests, and those turned into more tests, and the ones turned into yet more tests, and pretty quickly I was running away of money. I dropped out of ATC school, went to film school instead, and got a job here at EAA in the video department. I still has been obsessed with airplanes, but never thought I’d get to fly them. Over typically the next decade, I would keep working toward getting my medical, eventually only going for a 3 rd class. Each time My spouse and i would receive the same denial letter. Then in 2019 things changed.
As anyone who has camped during AirVenture knows, you never know who you might meet in the campgrounds. In 2019, I happened to meet an aeromedical examiner and a few members of EAA’s Aeromedical Council. After an evening chatting with them, they were sure they could help me finally get the medical. In November 2019, I got the letter I had been waiting a decade for. I finally had my medical. I’m not going to lie, my dad and I both cried. I’d made peace with the fact I had been never going to fly by myself and now right here was my ticket to be able to the sky.
While 2020 might throw a wrench into my plans, and at this recommendation of a great friend, I found our instructor, John Dorcey, EAA 68060. On May 24, 2021, I had my first lesson.
As we work toward my checkride, John has instilled in me often the confidence I needed to take all that I’d learned flying throughout my life and use it for all the bits I hadn’t done yet. It helps for you to also have friends you can call when things aren’t quite so easy. I’ve struggled with landings, yet they’ve all had advice and encouragement when I felt like I’d never get it figured out. They’ve set me up so I just can’t fail.
So, let’s try this one more time.
Yep, that still feels surreal to say. On to your checkride!
Have you reached a new milestone recently? Passed some sort of checkride, given your 1st or hundredth Young Eagles flight, flown your homebuilt for the first time? Tell us about it at EAA.org/Submissions .