Riddell breaks gender barrier becoming first EHS female solo flyer

Published 11:39 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2022

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Elizabethton High School junior Emma Riddell became the first female in school history to complete a solo flight on March 11.
“I was extremely nervous before I got there, but once I started flying it felt natural and I wasn’t as worried anymore,” Riddell said. She completed her flight at the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, where she was accompanied by her fellow classmates and teachers.
Dan Mills, Elizabethton High School’s previous aviation instructor, accompanied Riddell as she took the time to prepare.
“Checking the plane, inside and out, is a tedious process but I’m thankful I had Mr. Mills there to help walk me through the steps,” she said.
In order to participate in her solo flight, Riddell had to complete the multiple aviation classes offered at the high school. Through these programs she received her Student Pilot License and Medical License, which allowed her to move forward in her solo flight.
“Since my time taking the aviation classes, I’ve learned so many new things that I would’ve never expected to know otherwise. It’s been life-shaping for me,” Riddell said.
The courses taught her things as simple as how to maneuver an airplane to what every specific button does. Since she is the first female from Elizabethton High School to complete a solo flight, she hopes for future females to follow in her footsteps.
“It was definitely intimidating, knowing I was the first, but it brought me a sense of accomplishment. I want other girls to know that they can do great things,” said Riddell.
She attributes her success to Dan Mills and William Edmons, her flight instructors and mentors.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I did, I’m really thankful for them,” she said.

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