Quincy girl achieves rare two-fer on 16th birthday
It was a rite of passage, with a twist. A twist that made her mother cry and made her dad cover his eyes in fright.
Quincy student Taran Brown turned 16 last month, so naturally, she went for a ride, what, with her license being brand-new and all that. Five minutes later, she was back, safe and sound.
And so was her airplane.
Brown, the daughter of Mark Brown, owner of Quincy Flying Services, a crop-dusting company, had her first solo flight on her birthday, as part of her student pilot license training.
Mark is a flight instructor and owns a number of small aircraft, including the single-engine, crop-dusting Piper that Taran used during her first solo flight. He has trained other young pilots before.
“It’s kind of neat for these young kids to say they flew an aircraft by themselves before they drove a car by themselves,” Mark said.
Taran’s training took several weeks before her solo flight on her birthday. It was the first time that a student of Mark’s was also his relative, and the difference showed. For starters, when Taran took off, Mark said to himself, “Uh-oh,” as he stood on the ground.
And when Taran landed on the Quincy airfield, Mark covered his eyes with his hands.
The flight wasn’t the scariest part for Taran.
“The scariest part for me was just taxiing down and just thinking about what I was about to do,” Taran said. “Thinking about the concept of being up there by myself.”
Teaching your daughter to fly comes with an unusual set of challenges. You don’t argue with your flight instructor, Mark said, but when the instructor is also Dad, you have a little more leeway, much to Mark’s fatherly dismay.
“The FAA specifies you must do it this way,” said Mark, mimicking himself before switching to a more teenager-ish tone of voice. “ ‘Well, I don’t wanna do it that way.’ She disagreed with the federal government.”
After the flight was over, they sent Mom some pictures and a video, which moved her to tears. She had not been the biggest fan of the idea of her daughter flying, and had stayed home.
“I would make her nervous, so it’s best if I stayed at home. Mom wasn’t allowed at any airport,” said her mom, Tara.
With the airplane parked, Taran had another milestone to hit a couple of days later: Her first solo behind the wheel of a car, which she said was easier than flying, despite having less traffic in the air than on the roads.
“When you’re driving, you’re just driving,” she said. “When you’re in an airplane you have to check air speed, incline, a lot of stuff.”
Dad continued the list. “She’s gotta monitor the engine, bank angles, wind, other traffic, listen to the radio, a multitude of things you’re doing at the same time: feet controls, rudder controls, elevator controls, throttle controls. And when any of that goes haywire, in a car you can just pull over. In an airplane, there ain’t no pulling over. It’s all the way back to the ground.”
Taran recommended flying a plane to her peers, but said focus and poise are essential, to avoid getting frustrated.
“In airplanes, you always gotta be thinking ahead, to what’s gonna happen next,” Mark said. “Because it will creep up on you pretty quick, and start stacking up and it can become overwhelming.”
In addition to her driver’s license, she’s the owner of a student-pilot license, and can’t take passengers along in flights. To take someone along, she needs to earn a private pilot license, which she might pursue in the future. However, she sees her professional life happening with the rest of us earthbound folks.
“I wanna be an ob-gyn,” she said. “But since I’m around airplanes so much, it’s fun for me to do stuff like (this).”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org