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Ottumwa Student Gets Pilots License Two Days Before his Drivers License

By Nick Davis, August 09, 2017

Ottumwa teenager Dakota Quinn spent his sixteenth birthday flying two solo flights in two different planes.

Quinn explains the written process of getting his license to fly solo. “In order to solo, I had to fill out a pre-solo written exam, that just asked questions about the two airplanes, asked various speeds such as what speed I need to lift off the ground, what speed I need to land, each plane was different,” Quinn says.

A number of things went through Quinn’s head as he was in the air by himself for the first time. “The first thought was ‘I can’t believe I did it’, and I kept telling myself ‘keep going, don’t get too distracted on your happy emotions and what not, just focus on what you’re doing, and celebrate later,” Quinn says.

It was family that first got Quinn interested in flying as a young boy. “My grandpa introduced me to a guy by the name of Barry Taylor out at the Antique airfield, which we started going out there quite a bit, hanging out there. Then Barry introduced me to the man who owns the Piper Cub that I soloed in. He then gave me my first airplane ride in that aircraft. Then I learned how to fly in that aircraft, and I soloed it,” Quinn says.

Quinn’s first solo flights included flying both a 1940s piper cub and a 1980 piper warrior. Quinn’s flight instructor, Kealey Paris of Ottumwa, remarks on how rare it is for someone so young to master flying these two planes at such a young age. “I’ve told a lot of people, even for a grown adult with a lot of experience that to go from a tail dragger to a conventional airplane, really takes quite a bit of skill, and to do it at sixteen… I’m sure it happens, but I would say very rarely throughout the US,” Paris says.

Getting a flying license takes time, and is a step by step process. To get a pilot’s license, one has to be able to read, write, and understand english, and spend 40 hours training in the air. People can get a license to fly solo at age sixteen, to fly passengers one has to be seventeen, and to get a commercial pilot’s license, eighteen.

For the record, Paris says Quinn received his drivers license on Tuesday.

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