17-year-old Dunn student takes off at Santa Ynez Airport in first solo flight | Local news

Seventeen-year-old Helen Pruitt-Kennett, a senior at Dunn School in Los Olivos, recently reached for the stars on a solo flight above the Santa Ynez Valley that brought her closer to earning her private pilot’s certificate.

According to local pilot Robert “Capt. Bob” Perry, also a certified flight instructor, “Helen did great on her first solo,” which included multiple takeoffs and landings at the Santa Ynez Airport on the morning of Aug. 25.

The teen’s flight instructor, Yves Bajulaz of ABC Airsports in Santa Ynez, provided in-flight instruction while Perry conducted ground instruction at the Santa Ynez Airport.

According to Perry, Pruitt-Kennett took off from the local airport and piloted a preapproved flight pattern with Bajulaz as co-pilot. She then successfully landed, dropped off her instructor and completed two additional circuits — but this time solo.

Her solo efforts did not conclude at that, as Pruitt-Kennett completed another successful takeoff and left the flight pattern to travel 3 miles north to Dunn School where she navigated a few turns around the campus, Perry explained.

He said during the flight, the teen climbed up to 2,000 feet above mean sea level — or approximately 1,000 feet above the floor of the Valley — before returning to the airport to the cheers of her father, aunt, uncle and other supporters proudly waiting on the disaster.

The teen now is well on the way to achieving her goal of obtaining a pilot’s certificate, Perry noted.

To earn her wings, federal aviation regulations state that pilots must be at least 17 years old and have a minimum of 35 to 45 hours of flight time, including at least 20 hours of dual instruction and 10 hours of solo flight.

Pruitt-Kennett was the recipient of an Airport Day 2022 Flight Training Scholarship, sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority, with support from the Santa Ynez Tribe of Chumash Indians, Experimental Aircraft Chapter 491 of Santa Ynez and other private donors.

The airport also is expected to reflect the change after the board voted to redirect $32,000 of the COVID-19 relief funds received from a federal grant to the general airport fund to pay for a new airport sign.

9th annual Santa Ynez Airport Day slated to take off May 21

The Young Eagles Airport Day will return for a ninth year on Saturday, May 21, to the Santa Ynez tarmac, featuring dozens of aircraft on displ…

Jim Kunkle, president of Central Coast Jet Center in Santa Maria, dies from cancer at 67

Jim Kunkle, the former president of the Central Coast Jet Center and whose business became a fast-growing local services hub for the defense and aerospace aviation industries, died from cancer last month at the age of 67, according to his family on Tuesday.

Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *