Bethany Carter has a day of firsts

Submitted by the Airhawks Flying Club.

Bethany Carter, an Airhawks Flying Club scholarship recipient had a “Day of Firsts” on Nov. 2.

Carter, a sophomore at Orcas High School had her 16th birthday. She flew her first solo flight in the Airhawks Flying Club’s Beechcraft “Sundowner” aircraft on the very first day she was legal to fly solo.

Flight Instructor Tony Simpson and Carter took off at 8 a.m. on Nov. 2 under overcast skies with light but gusty winds out of the east so they had crosswind conditions since the runway at Orcas is oriented almost N – S. They flew several practice approaches and landings. Tony then exited the aircraft and sent Bethany on her way by herself.

She took off to the north, stayed in the traffic pattern and made three low approaches down the runway with a go around but did not touch down as she adjusted to the landing crosswind conditions. Her parents, instructor and mentor were watching from the ground and knew she wanted her first landing to be perfect — and it was. She then made four landings, and each was a “squeaker” (an aviation term used to describe the sound of the wheels touching the runway softly).

The first solo flight is a memorable occasion, something a pilot remembers for the rest of their life and is celebrated by having the tail of their T-shirt cut off – a tradition that the instructor has confidence the student can now fly by themselves. Airhawks’ second scholarship recipient this year, Diego Garcia, is a senior at Orcas Christian School and is expected to solo within a week.

Airhawks’ goal is to award at least two $4,000 scholarships to high school-aged students per year who are interested in earning a private pilot certificate. Airhawks also hopes to add a “fully qualified simulator” to the training program in 2022. The simulator will make teaching flight procedures quicker as well as lowering the cost of flight training.

Students, donors or individuals interested in the Airhawks Scholarship Program or the Flying Club, a non-profit corporation, can contact Bob Waunch at 360-376-2450.