A first solo is always a time for celebration and congratulations. When the soloing student happens to be South Dakota’s second ranking transportation official who is also participating in his state’s effort to promote aviation, the occasion becomes even more of a special event.
That’s what took place at the Pierre, S.D., airport recently when state Deputy Secretary of Transportation Kevin Tveidt made his first solo in a Cessna 172. Tveidt, 55, says he looked at it this way: If he planned to help the South Dakota Aeronautics Commission with its promotional efforts, he needed to know more about aviation. And what better way to learn about aviation than to take flying lessons?
That decision raised some eyebrows at first. But as the aeronautics commission’s vice chairman, Jack Mitchell, tells it, skepticism about Tveidt’s personal piloting project evaporated when, at the 15-hour mark, Tveidt earned his solo signoff from flight instructor Ryan Meyer.
“Frankly, we were not sure Kevin was serious,” said Mitchell. “So when Kevin soloed in almost no time at all, it seemed appropriate to recognize his efforts. I asked AOPA to provide a First Solo Certificate, which arrived just in time for one of our commission meetings. After I gave Kevin the certificate, I also cut off his tie.”
Now with 25 hours of flight training, Tveidt has flown a challenging dual cross-country to tower-controlled Bismarck, N.D., and added more local solos to his logbook entries. He is starting to recognize voices on the Pierre Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, and he’s making friends in the local pilot community. Those pilots are always supportive, helping a new pilot in training feel at home.
“They’re a good group to work with,” he said.