June 30, 2010 — On June 4, 2010, two days after his 17th birthday, Tyler Stargardt climbed into the left seat of a Cessna 172 at the Marshfield, Wisconsin, Municipal Airport, took and passed his FAA checkride. For Tyler, who will be a senior in high school next fall, it was the culmination of an aviation whirlwind inspired by the EAA Young Eagles Program, chapter support and encouragement, and his unyielding drive to succeed.
As a Young Eagle, Tyler was provided special access to the online Sporty’s Complete Pilot Training Course. In fact, he is the first Young Eagle graduate of the Sporty’s/EAA program to earn a pilot’s certificate. Through his involvement with Marshfield’s EAA Chapter 992, Tyler learned about the EAA Young Eagles Flight Training Scholarship. He applied, and was named the recipient, receiving $7,500 to help pay for is flight lessons.
He first became interested in aviation through Microsoft Flight Simulator. Then about five years ago he went on a Young Eagles flight with Star Carpenter of the Marshfield Chapter. “I had taken flights before, but this time I was able to do banks and turns and I just loved it,” he said. “I got so comfortable flying the airplane that I later told my mom I felt I could have landed it.
“I was definitely hooked.”
It wasn’t until late 2009 that he began his formal training - following a holiday light flight in December 2009. The very next day Tyler approached flight instructor Dave Wells at Duffy’s Aircraft Sales and Service in Marshfield to arrange for flight lessons.
Wells had him solo on March 25, 2010 - after only 10 hours of flight training. “I almost never solo a student at 10 hours, but this guy is sharp as a tack,” Wells said. Tyler had just over 40 hours of training at the time of his checkride.
“I had no doubt he could do it,” Wells said. “Tyler is very focused and soaks it all in. He’s always on time, always ready. If you ask me, he will go a long ways in aviation.”
Another motivation for Tyler was EAA staffer Brady Lane’s “Earning My Wings” online video series chronicling Lane’s sport pilot flight training.
Tyler plans to continue his aviation studies at college with the goal of someday becoming a professional pilot.
EAA’s Brian O’Lena, youth programs manager, said Tyler may be the first Young Eagle to achieve a pilot certificate in part though the Sporty’s program, but “With resources available like the Sporty’s online course, any Young Eagle has the potential to become a pilot. It’s just a matter of putting forth the effort using the resources available.
“Tyler will be just the first of many new pilots, with the help of Sporty’s and EAA, over the coming years.”
Tyler’s flight instructor Dave Wells, left, feels the young pilot will go a long ways in aviation.