By TAYLOR HARTZ
While most teenagers spend their 16th birthdays waiting in long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicle hoping to earn their learner’s permit, Adam Carter spent his soaring over the state on his first solo flight.
At the age of 16, Adam earned his student pilot’s license and took off from Robertson Airport in Plainville, where he has been flying for four years— and watching others fly his whole life.
Carter’s fascination with flying began when he was just 2-years-old.
To help the toddler fall asleep, his father would take him on car rides around town – their usual destination? Robertson Airport.
His parents said it didn’t take long before he was asking for regular trips to the airport, and Carter said he remembers pointing up to the sky, watching the airplanes at Robertson as a young child.
“It just turned from watching the planes into I was 12 years old, and I learned I could take lessons here,” said Carter, who began flying at Robertson four years ago.
In addition to flying, Carter works at the airport on the maintenance crew, where he trades his work hours for flying hours.
Though he wishes he could fly every week, Carter is in the air a few times each month, and is kicking his practices into high gear in the year leading up to his licensing test.
On his 17th birthday, Carter will take the exam and hopes to earn his pilot’s license.
In his training, Carter learns to complete pre-flight checks, plot his course, study the weather, and of course, operate the plane he rents from the airport.
Navigation is his favorite area of study, though he said he has learned that “you need to respect the weather,” — a lesson he learned right away when his first flight took place during Winter Storm Alfred in 2012.
The young soon-to-be-pilot said his lessons normally follow a boxed out course, headed toward Terryville or Hartford. On occasion, he and his instructor will take “cross country flights” up to the Albany area, for a more advanced route.
“When you’re up there, it’s just you and the airplane,” said Carter, who hopes to some day fly charter private corporate jets.
A junior at Bristol Eastern, he keeps busy on land with tennis and cross-country, and already has plans for after graduation.
The frequent flyer has begun looking at schools in Florida and North Dakota, where he can further advance his education in piloting and flight training.
When it came time to begin his early morning flight on Aug. 26, Carter took his place in the pilot’s seat beside his instructor, Robert Joslyn, who has been teaching Adam to fly for the past four years.
As he left the runway, Carter asked his instructor a few questions, steadied the plane, and explained that the plane were being pushed by a tail wind, traveling about 120 miles per hour.
As he soared the plane over Plainville, Bristol, Southington, Meriden, Middletown and Hartford, Carter and Joslyn pointed out the Otis Elevator, Lake Compounce, the Connecticut River and icons in the Hartford skyline.
Traveling at an average of 100 knots and 115 miles per hour, Carter adjusted his speed, discussed wind patterns with Joslyn, and took note of air traffic above and below following radio reports.
“He’s come a long way,” said Joslyn, who began training Carter in his first lesson at the age of 12.
Joslyn said he has enjoyed watching Carter “learn how to become a master of the airplane,” and achieve his goal of taking his first solo flight on his 16th birthday.
Although he doesn’t yet have his driver’s license, Carter said he hopes to be licensed on the road and in the air by the time he turns 17 next July.
“I’d like to be able to drive myself to the airport to fly the plane,” joked Carter.
The 16-year-old said he plans to take off as many times as possible over the next ten months, and hopes to call himself a pilot within the year.
By TAYLOR HARTZ