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Flying high in the sky

John HartMorgan Harvey stands next to her father's Cessna Cardinal 177 at Nevada County Airport. Morgan had her first solo recently at Lincoln's airport and is a senior at Bear River High School.
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Seventeen-year-old pilot Morgan Harvey asked if I was scared as I climbed into the back seat of the Cessna Cardinal just two weeks after her first solo flight.

“No, not at all,” I said, half-fibbing, trying to convince myself.

Besides, flight instructor Chris Ellsworth was along for the ride this time, just in case.



During pre-flight check at Nevada County Airport earlier this month, Harvey confided she was feeling a little rusty after her initial solo out of Lincoln Airport.

But Harvey’s butterflies and mine were all for naught once the plane lifted from the runway and took to the sky.




Piney foothills rolled out in every direction, the snowy tops of the Sierra rose up to the east, and to the west, the Central Valley lay buried under a blanket of fog.

“You’re doing good, I haven’t touched anything yet,” said Ellsworth as Harvey brought the plane around for the first of three touch-and-go landings.

“Just fly it, just fly it, beautiful, beautiful, flaps up,” Ellsworth cautioned as the Cessna came down for good with a small bounce.

“Not bad for 17, huh?” said a smiling Ellsworth, who’s plenty funny, but serious when it comes to flying safely.

“She’s excellent, probably one of the best students I’ve had,” he added.

“It just takes a moment to refresh after you haven’t flown for a while,” said the Bear River High School senior, who took up flying in part, she said, because it runs in the family.

“It’s a feeling thing, the seat of the pants really fits,” said Ellsworth on learning to fly.

Watching her daughter solo was more thrilling than her own first flight, said Morgan’s mother Cindy, who recently flew solo her first time, too.

“It’s just exciting when it’s your own kid,” Cindy Harvey said. … “At 16, she learned to drive a car and 17 she’s flying a plane, pretty cool.”

Morgan and Cindy are members of a very small segment of the population who can fly a plane, said Steve Harvey, the proud husband and father who flies himself.

“Less than 1 percent of the (U.S.) population are solo female pilots,” he said.

Flying solo the first time, Steve Harvey said, is the most “nail biting” part of learning to fly.

After weeks of instruction, Harvey said, the instructor walks away from the plane and lets the student go.

“It’s a pretty harrowing experience for an onlooker to experience the solo flight of a family member,” Ellsworth said…. “I remember my first flight; it’s pretty exciting.”

To find out more about flight instruction and learning how to fly solo, call Ellsworth at Nevada County Flight Training at 913-0428.


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