Written by Miranda Patterson
After almost five years of training, Emma Baker was ready for the day of her first solo flight. For her whole life, flying had fascinated her.
Baker, aged 20, has generations of pilots in her family tree. Her two older siblings didn’t care to follow their father’s footsteps, but Baker and her younger brother decided to take up the challenge.
The day of her solo, the winds were strong, and Baker felt nervous to fly on her own. She told her dad she wasn’t ready. He reassured her that being a pilot meant knowing her comfort levels in the sky.
After checking the weather all day, Baker was eager to take flight. The solo-flight pattern included buzzing around the local airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, and landing three different times.
Baker’s hands gripped the controls, and she took off.
“I was in the air by myself for the first time,” she said.
She flew the family’s polished aluminum Luscombe-Silvaire, which Baker had named “Sylvia” when she was four years old.
When she was back on the ground, longtime pilots were in awe.
“That’s a man’s plane,” one said.
“You just joined the brotherhood of soloing in a Luscombe,” another said.
Baker received her pilot license just months before she left for her mission in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Now, a sophomore studying construction management, Baker has not flown since the start of her mission, but she eagerly awaits the day she will take Sylvia to the sky once more.