CCHS Sophomore Takes to the Skies with First Solo Flight


Photo courtesy of Jeremy Carlson.

Jeremy Carlson sits in his plane at Peachtree DeKalb Airport.

Keegan Brooks, Staff Writer

While many teenagers have their eyes set on getting a driver’s license, one student had his eyes set on the sky. After taking flying lessons for the past three years, CCHS sophomore Jeremy Carlson earned his student pilot certificate and flew his first solo flight two weeks ago.

Carlson has had a passion for flying since his grandfather took him on his first plane flight.

“The first time I ever was in small aircraft was when I was about five. My grandfather took me up in a biplane around Atlanta as a birthday present. And ever since then it’s always been something I like to do,” said Carlson.

The planes that Carlson flies are small four-seater aircraft called Piper Cherokees. He takes flying lessons at Peachtree-DeKalb Airport.

“The first time I ever actually started taking flight lessons was about three years ago. […] I fly with Centennial Aviation Academy,” said Carlson. “Centennial Aviation Academy is a flight academy for students usually under the age of 18.”

Two weeks ago, Carlson had his sixteenth birthday. This made him eligible for a student pilot certificate and allowed him to complete his first solo flight. 

“That was my first solo, […] the first time I’d ever flown a plane without an instructor. Basically, what it outlined was me taking the aircraft, taking off, flying a few laps around the airport, then landing again,” said Carlson. “It took about thirty minutes.”

Essentially, a student pilot certificate is a piece of paper issued by the Federal Aviation Association to pilots in training. The certificate says that a pilot in training has the ability to adequately fly a plane short distances without an instructor’s aid and an instructor is required to sign off on the certificate. A student is required to be sixteen years old in order to get the certificate and be allowed to fly solo flights.

Even after taking flying lessons for three years with weekly lessons and monthly flights, Carlson still needed to prepare a large amount for his first solo flight. Like many people doing something new for the first time, Carlson was nervous before his first solo flight. 

“I basically had to do a flight every single day for about a week. And I had to do ten hours of ground school in a week,” said Carlson. “It’s really kind of a big thing. You get in the plane, close the doors, […], and it’s the first time I’ve ever done this without an instructor. And if something goes wrong, I have to rely on what I’ve learned. It’s a really big leap of faith.”

However, Carlson doesn’t plan to stop here. He has goals of flying longer solo flights to other states and eventually going into an aviation-related career.

“Of course, as I become a more experienced pilot, [I plan to] solo fly to Tennessee and solo fly down to Florida,” said Carlson. “My future goal is [to] fly private jets. And if that doesn’t work out I am going to fly commercial airliners.”

Carlson is happy he has had a family that supports his passion for flying.

“My family’s probably been my number one fan. They’ve been super beneficial in the fact that they get me where I need to go. They pay for [lessons] because it’s not free,” said Carlson.

In addition to taking flying lessons, Carlson also enjoys taking his friends for a flight.

“My favorite experience […] was one of the first times I ever actually flew a small aircraft and I took up my friends,” said Carlson. “It was eight or nine o’clock at night and we just went and flew around Atlanta, [in] the middle of the night. It was really pretty.”

However, Carlson notes that not everything about flying is necessarily fun. 

“Flying is great, except when you’re on the ground. Because there’s so much stuff you have to do. To prepare for a flight you have to do paperwork saying that the plane is ready to fly, you have to make sure you’re okay to fly. But basically, once you’re in the air, there isn’t really anything to not like,” said Carlson.

Carlson also suggests that other students interested in learning how to fly should explore the opportunity of taking flying lessons.

“If it’s something you feel like you want to do, it’s always worth a try, because you never know what experience will change your life,” said Carlson.

After completing his first solo flight, Carlson hopes that this is the beginning of a long flying career and many more years of flying.

“Flying for me isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle,” said Carlson.