16-year-old Stidham takes first solo flight

Bret Bevens, PDT Sports Writer

August 14, 2012


PDT Staff Writer

MINFORD — August couldn’t arrive soon enough for Tyler Stidham of Wheelersburg, who is a teen-aged private pilot in training.

Stidham, who is a student at Chasteen Aviation, Inc., turned 16 years old on Aug. 1, and has been anticipating taking a solo flight since he began flight instruction in 2011.

Some members of Stidham’s family, and friends gathered at the Minford Airport to support his endeavor. Just before Stidham’s took his solo flight, he took a flight with his instructor, Mike Chasteen, of Chasteen Aviation, Inc. With Stidham in the pilot’s seat, he took five flights up in the air, to prepare for the solo.

“I had to do what’s called, five ‘touch and goes,’ when you come in for a landing, but you don’t completely stop, you just put all of your wheels on the ground, and then take back off,” Stidham said.

Stidham’s solo-flight was also contingent upon the weather conditions — clear skies and no turbulence in the winds, which were both agreeable that day.

“Some of the things that I looked for in Tyler before the solo flight, is that he would keep his composure, and perform all of the requirements satisfactorily, and he did,” Chasteen said.

Chasteen said that getting to know Stidham well was a major factor in releasing him to perform a solo flight. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, flight instructors must take for responsibility for their students, which makes it vitally important for instructors to be very familiar with their students.

“He had to basically build his confidence, and he had to build mine. I had to get to know him, that’s a big part of it,”Chasteen said. “Every instructor looks for different things, what I look for is to make sure that he’s going take care of his primary goal, which is flying the aircraft.”

After Stidham completed three good landings on the touch and go trial flights, he was ready to take his solo flight.

“Make sure that the butterflies are gone,” Chasteen said to Stidham. “Do what you’ve done for the last five lessons.”

With those words it was now time for Stidham to soar. He went up into the air in the Cessna 172 aircraft.

“It felt kind of weird not to have someone next to me. I just took off,” Stidham said.

Stidham completed his solo flight successfully, and was greeted with cheers from his friends and family, and flight instructor after landing. He said flying solo was one of the greatest experiences in his life thus far, and he is looking to continuing his pursuit of becoming a private pilot at age 17.

Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 234 or portiawilliams@heartlandpublications.com.