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On 16th Birthday, Why Drive When You Can Fly?

Sixteen is not only the age where people can legally start driving alone, it is also the age when pilots can begin to fly alone. One student who recently did so was Robert Bruce of the Atlanta area, who did his first solo in a Cessna 172 at the Flight School of Gwinnett near Atlanta. Flying is in Bruce's blood, as he is the great-grandson of a fighter pilot who went to Canada to participate in World War I before the United States entered the war. As a toddler, Bruce would pretend the cars he rode in were airplanes. His first time flying in an airplane was at age 11, when Larry Bishop of the Young Eagles program was contacted by Bruce's mother and saw the boy's eagerness to participate. "I took him by himself," said Bishop, who was on hand to monitor the radio during Bruce's first solo flight. "I told her, 'You don't have to wait for the monthly [outing].'" After Bruce brought the plane back in for a landing, Bishop called it "the smoothest landing for a student" ever, while Bruce said, "It's not my birthday. It's the day of my first solo flight."

April 16, 2009

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