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EAA Chapter 7's Ray Scholar Completes Solo Cross-Country
By Don Thompson, EAA Chapter 7 president, Ray Scholarship Coordinator
November 2020 – We qualified our chapter for the 2019 Ray Scholarship and Oshkosh accepted our candidate, Matthew Winters. Now it begins!
Matt was enrolled at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, so off to school he went. We managed a flight program for him and with classes his schedule was full and busy.
Enter COVID-19! Interference of the virus slowed flight training, thus Matt needed to come home to continue training. At home in Long Beach, California, we set him up and continued training. By August, he soloed and passed the written! Now doing the cross-country phase it was time to return to school. Matthew managed to settle in at school again and set up flight training to continue. His instructor verified his proficiency level and pushed him forward towards his goal of PPL.
Now, here's a cool high spot for his logbook. It was time for his long cross-country solo. Talking with his parents, he made plans to come home. Prescott to Long Beach. The stars aligned and all the pieces of the flight were checked off "go." It was on.
Early takeoff had Matthew into the SoCal area just a bit before Long Beach went VFR so the alternate Hemet Ryan was used. Fuel and exercise and weather check. All clear. Long Beach, here I come! He landed about 12:30 p.m.
I had coordinated Matt's tie down at my flightline, ESCAP. Mom and Dad brought lunch and items for his use at school. Word spread that Matthew was arriving on his solo long cross-country and a few of his fellow pilot friends were present to greet him also.
Here's the kicker. It's Matthew's birthday today! 19 years old. And his Dad has a picture and the story of his very first airplane flight on his birthday in 2011! He told his Dad that day that he wanted to be a pilot! Now, here today, on his 19th birthday, he's doing the last big step to qualify for his private pilot certificate. Lots to celebrate!
So, to conclude the day's events, Matthew celebrated with family and friends. He did his weather brief and picked his return route to Prescott and executed the plan. He flew 7.9 hours roundtrip and has set October 11 for his checkride.
Onward and upward he goes! Blue skies to all.