Flying Musicians scholarship winner solos

The Flying Musicians Association announced Nov. 2 that its 2015 Solo Award winner, Drew Medina, a senior at Florida's Vero Beach High School and a member of their jazz, symphonic, and marching bands, has soloed an airplane. Photo courtesy of the Flying Musicians Association.

Drew Medina, a senior at Florida’s Vero Beach High School, completed his solo flight in a Garmin G500-equipped Archer III with funds he received from the Flying Musicians Association’s first scholarship, according to a Nov. 2 announcement by association founder John Zapp.

Medina, a saxophone player who performs in the school’s jazz, symphonic, and marching bands, is balancing his love of aviation with his musical demands. The jazz musician wrote about his aviation accomplishment in a blog entry just after an Oct. 11 solo flight, which also coincided with his school’s homecoming dance.

“It was an incredible feeling,” he wrote. “On my first landing, I was substantially high on final. I utilized a forward slip and managed to lose enough altitude to bring the Archer in for a decent landing. My second and third landings were both good, though my next goal is to land shorter.”

Congratulatory messages to Medina immediately began flowing to him on a special website Zapp set up for the occasion. “Way to Go Drew! Excellent news! You are an excellent example for future pilot musicians to follow! You’ll remember this day forever! Congratulations from all FMA members! Keep us posted on the rest of your training. And hey, did you play at the dance?” wrote Len Assante.

Piper Aircraft chief engineer Buddy Sessoms, who is Medina’s flight instructor, wrote in the news release, “Drew is quiet, focused, driven, and definitely very diligent.”

Medina told Zapp he was surprised at how focused he was and Medina said he didn’t let his nerves get the best of him. “When he [Sessoms] got out of the plane, I kinda smiled; I was excited and surprised that it was finally happening. I was nervous for a little bit, but when I started rolling, everything I learned just kicked in.”

Zapp, a frequent musical contributor at AOPA Regional Fly-Ins and other aviation events, thanked fellow Flying Musicians Association members and sponsors for their support of the inaugural scholarship.

“Drew was an excellent choice as our inaugural FMA Solo award winner,” Zapp wrote. “As much as I am proud of Drew, my heart sings for the outpouring of support our members gave Drew throughout the process. From gear to training aides, including a first class medical exam, FMA showed that our supporters and sponsors are committed to growing the pilot population. We have identified the demographic most likely to succeed. There are plenty of others yearning for our assistance.”

Five future aviators from four states were selected as finalists. Sky-Tec Flyweight Starters fully funded the scholarship and Sporty’s Pilot Shop donated its Learn to Fly courses. Flight bags were supplied my while Aviators Hot Line and Trade-A-Plane provided promotion and advertising for the solo program scholarship.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Financial, Flying Club, Scholarship

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