When AOPA last caught up with Rachel Carter—who at 9 years old had set the unofficial record for youngest pilot of a transcontinental flight—she had bad news.
Several years after the flight (along with her flight instructor father Jimmy Carter—no, not that one—in the right seat) she had two heart valves replaced. While she had held a special issuance medical years earlier, the FAA refused to issue her a third class medical certificate after the surgery. Though she could not receive her private pilot certificate, Carter went on to become the assistant manager of California's Ramona Airport, then its manager, and then operations coordinator of Fallbrook Airport—all while fighting like a tiger for that medical.
Now she has great news: Thanks to her tenacity and the testimony of a cardiologist, the FAA Oklahoma branch had a change of heart, and on Aug. 18 issued a giddy Carter her medical certificate.
"I am on my way to fulfilling my passion in flying and getting my long-overdue license," she said. She and her father are shooting for her checkride before Thanksgiving. Keep up with Carter's progress toward her private pilot certificate on her blog, followed by her upcoming pursuit of her instrument, multiengine, and commercial tickets.
"I'd like to get into aerobatics, too," she said. "I'm so stoked."