COMMENTARY / TOWER FREQUENCY
Anticipated for a Lifetime
My son’s first solo
April 9 wAs A day filled with anticipation, excitement,
and a little anxiety for the Hightower family because
that day our son, John, soloed on his 16th birthday.
The first solo is a milestone in any aviator’s journey
that represents a powerful transformation for those
who aspire to fly. The transformation from “I think I
can…” to “I just did!” usually brings a great release of
thrilling emotions along with a sense of accomplishment, pride, and confidence that ranks among the
greatest in a person’s lifetime.
As I put pen to paper it occurs to me that our
family has been transformed as well by John’s first
solo. Not only have we experienced a sense of pride
and happiness for John, who has just fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a pilot, but also our family has
achieved a milestone that my wife, Maura, and I had
dreamed of and hoped for for decades.
During the many hours spent together while
restoring our Stearman, Maura and I would often talk
about plans for our future, and wonder what role this
airplane would play in our new life together. You see,
we purchased the basket-case airplane project the
same year we got married. We envisioned great
adventures together in the old biplane as we winged
off to exciting places and experiences that we knew
awaited our discovery. We spoke of the things newly
do, such as:
How many chil-
will we have
we really afford
an airplane? All
the while put-
mind to the goal
Our daughter Hannah arrived in 1993, son John
in ’ 96, and the Stearman’s first flight after our resto-
ration was ’ 97. For us, it wasn’t just a project. It was
We spoke of the
things newly marrieds
often do, such as:
How many children?
When will we have
dining room furniture?
Maura, John, and Rod Hightower after John’s first solo on April 9.
the realization of a lifelong dream to fly
our own airplane anytime and anywhere
we liked. There have been many memorable
flights in our beloved biplane, and when we
remember the people and places that have
enriched our lives through the years, Maura
and I often reminisce about the wonderful
camaraderie that is part of aviation. We aviators know one thing with a great amount of
certainty, and that’s this—there are a lot of
great people in aviation.
But we agree, there are two flights that are
mileposts in the logbook of aviation dreams of
two young newlyweds of years ago. The flight
of the Stearman after a seven-year restoration
was a fabulous first, and the first solo flight of
our son, who himself has aspired to fly since
age 3, was our second most memorable first
flight. What more could an aviator hope for?
You can join me in sharing the experience of
John’s first solo by watching a video created by
Brady Lane at www.SportAviation.org.