EHS graduate earns solo wings
Published 9:21 am Saturday, June 18, 2016
Seth Simerly got his wings.
The 2016 Elizabethton High School graduate earned his solo wings on Tuesday, June 14, becoming the fifth EHS student to earn the accomplishment.
At a young age, the thrill of flying took hold, according to Seth.
“When I was little, I really enjoyed watching old World War II movies,” Simerly said. “From then, I knew this was something I wanted to do.”
The wheels were put into motion from that point. During his time as a Cyclone, Simerly worked under the guidance of EHS aviation and flight instructor Dan Mills.
“He’s very supportive of all his students,” Simerly said. “He’ll do anything he can to make sure you get your solo license. He has so much knowledge of flying.”
Simerly added the assistance from the program helped him get to this point. The high school’s aviation program features three courses: Introduction to Aerospace, Theory of Flight A, and the Theory of Flight B. Students in the program develop their pilot skills by using five high-speed computers. Those computers, according to the school’s website, include Microsoft Flight Simulator X software and a Redbird FMX full motion visual Advance Aviation Training Device.
With the different tools available, the stage was set for Simerly to get his wings in the summer.
Tuesday’s experience saw Simerly solo a Cessna 172 from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in 10.6 hours with Mills.
“It was a great feeling,” he added.
Simerly and EHS worked in conjunction with Lt. Col. Bill Powley, a Unicoi County native and creator of Flight Lesson Instructional Grant Helping Teens (F.L.I.G.H.T) Foundation. The nationally-known F.L.I.G.H.T Foundation secured a solo grant for Simerly through FedEx with Powley presenting the item.
“I just want to thank Mr. Mills and Lt. Col. Powley for their help,” Simerly said. “Without their support, this wouldn’t be possible.”
The Foundation was established in northeast Tennessee for students of all ages. According to Powley, the nonprofit foundation was formed to provide funding for students in the area to pursue an opportunity to receive a pilot’s license. Powley began the program at Unicoi County High School but the program was moved to Sullivan County in 2001.
“It’s a great feeling,” Simerly said about being one of five students from EHS. “Being part of a small group makes this feel so much special and I’m honored to be part of it.”
Simerly added that pursuing a private pilot’s license is next on the agenda. The EHS student will continue his schooling at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina.
Seth’s parents are Seth and Scott Simerly.