October 29, 2015: Fort Worth, TX: The Flying Musicians Association is happy and proud to announce that its first FMA Solo Scholarship Award recipient, Drew Medina of Vero Beach, Florida, a senior in the Vero Beach High School Jazz, Symphonic, and Marching Bands under the direction of James M. Sammons, has achieved his goal of successfully completing his first solo flight.
Drew’s flight instructor, Director / Chief Engineer at Piper Aircraft, Buddy Sessoms, said, “Drew is quiet, focused, driven, and definitely very diligent.” Sessoms exposed him to a little extra, prior to solo. “We even did some night flying. I was surprised that he had no trouble transitioning – none of the usual ‘flare too high’ reaction; he landed normally.
Drew impressed him even more, because, “His school time is pretty booked. Drew scheduled three flights a week when he could. Kids, especially seniors nowadays have absolutely no free time. For someone to do this during the school year and still have high academic accomplishment, he’s really remarkable. You [FMA] picked a really good candidate. He loves music and he loves flying. “
Drew said, “I was surprised at how focused I was during the whole thing. I wasn’t really nervous. When he 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. I was surprised – on the first landing, I was coming in a little high, and so I did a slip. How many people can say they did a forward slip on their first landing?”
“When I started down the runway, I was thinking, ‘Here we go.’ If you look at the video, you can see that for the entire time, I was stone cold and expressionless. I was having the time of my life, but I was so focused.”
Drew hasn’t flown in the week or so since he soloed. “I’m a little behind on the ground school, so I’m catching up. Plus, this is a crunch time for Band.”
Drew got an unexpected question. “My Band Director asked me how I could fly an airplane and play saxophone at the same time.” He laughed. “I didn’t have a good answer.”
Drew flew his club’s Archer III, with a Garmin E500 panel. Interestingly, “It’s the same model my Dad soloed in, before I was born,” Drew revealed. “It’s really nice.” Drew’s father didn’t finish he dream of getting his license. “He started having a family,” Drew explained, so, “I plan on getting my license before the end of the school year.”
Drew “soloed at about 21, 22 hours. We decided to do some night flying before the solo.”
“I’m super thankful for everybody at FMA. I think it’s cool that a group like that exists and is willing to help a guy like me achieve a dream I’ve held for so long.”
The Flying Musicians Association could not be prouder of anyone at this moment more than Drew Medina. John Zapp Sr., President/CEO of FMA, said, “Drew was an excellent choice as our inaugural FMA Solo award winner. 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.”
FMA extends a HUGE thank you to sponsors of this year’s scholarship. The scholarship is fully funded by Sky-Tec, the makers of the FLYWEIGHT Starter. Learn to Fly Courses were donated by Sporty’s Pilot Shop. A Flight Bag PLC Pro and either an iPad Folio or Sport Case and mount were provided by MYGOFLIGHT. Promotion and advertising were provided by Aviators Hot Line and Trade-A-Plane.
About FMA Solo Program: The FMA Solo Program is a scholarship that will assist the recipient(s) on their journey towards becoming an aviator. “We have found that, perhaps more than any other teachers, band directors get to know their students’ dreams. With these scholarships, they can help select students achieve them.” - Tim Kern. To learn how you can support this program please email us at Education@FlyingMusicians.org.
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