The sky's the limitMost 16-year-olds dream of sitting in the driver’s seat alone for the first time, but East Ridge High School sophomore Morgan Maxwell had other dreams — sitting solo in the cockpit of her Cessna 152 plane.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Most 16-year-olds dream of sitting in the driver’s seat alone for the first time, but East Ridge High School sophomore Morgan Maxwell had other dreams — sitting solo in the cockpit of her Cessna 152 plane.
Maxwell took her first solo flight on Nov. 7, her 16th birthday, at the Lake Elmo Airport.
“It’s really rare for anyone to solo on their 16th birthday,” she said. “In a way, it wasn’t really different from flying with an instructor except when you look at the seat next to you and no one is there, it’s a little nerve racking.”
Maxwell, a Woodbury resident, said it was her father, who is a pilot for Delta Airlines, who pushed her to take her first solo flight on her 16th birthday because he took his first solo flight at 16, her uncle, also a Delta Airlines pilot, took his first flight at 16 and her grandfather, a pilot during World War II, took his first flight at 16.
“My dad really wanted to keep it in the family,” she said.
The open air
Maxwell said she started taking private flying lessons last May at the suggestion of her father.
“My dad always really wanted me to fly,” she said. “So, I decided I’d try it and I actually really liked it.”
Even though Maxwell has a pilot in the family to teach her how to fly, she opted for a private instructor.
“We wanted to keep that out because I wanted to learn separately without my dad’s input for the time being,” she said. “I think to just enjoy it more.”
The first time Maxwell took off, she said it was an amazing feeling, one that she had never felt before.
“The first time I ever flew, it was a little scary to be in a small plane with just one other person,” she said. “But, I’ve always grown up with aviation, so you kind of get used to it.
“It was really cool to just be able to look down because seeing things on the ground is totally different from seeing things from up above.”
Maxwell said it was not too difficult to learn how to take off the first time she tried; in fact the hardest part is landing.
“Taking off and flying is all pretty much memorization — once you’ve taken off once, you can do it again,” she said. “But in every landing there’s a different scenario.”
Currently Maxwell flies about three or four times per week for two hours.
“It’s fun for just an hour to forget about everything else and just be up in the air,” she said. “It kind of gives you a new appreciation for what’s below.”
So far, Maxwell has flown around the Lake Elmo Airport, flown to the South St. Paul Airport, flown to New Richmond, Wisc. and has flown to Crystal, Minn.
Maxwell said that when she flies, they stick to low heights and only fly on calm days because of the size of the plane.
“Since its such a small plane, you would get sick so fast with all of the bumps if you went higher,” she said.
The next stop
Now that Maxwell has taken her first solo flight, the next step in her flying career is to get her private pilots license.
Maxwell said she plans to test for her license on her 17th birthday.
Once she gets her license, Maxwell is able to fly with passengers.
“I’m getting excited for when I can fly passengers and take my friends up with me,” she said. “It will be really fun to share it with everyone.”
Presently, Maxwell said she has no desire to fly great distances, but she said she might consider going for a commercial license one day.
“Right now, it’s definitely an option — I’m not counting it out,” she said. “But I’m not sure if I want to be a professional pilot yet.”
Maxwell said she suggests to any other teenagers who want to fly to simply go for it, the sky’s the limit.
“I encourage young people to try and do something they’ve never done before,” she said. “Try something that’s out of the ordinary that nobody can take away from them.”