Two young fliers go solo

Young Fliers Martina Kittelson-Caviness and Alex Riggin have both soloed and are finishing up the paperwork necessary to obtain their pilot's license.

Young Fliers Martina Kittelson-Caviness and Alex Riggin have both soloed and are finishing up the paperwork necessary to obtain their pilot's license.

You have to be 16 years old to get a pilot's license. Martina Kittelson-Caviness and Alex Riggin already have soloed and hope to have their licenses soon. Kittelson-Caviness got the itch to fly while attending a church camp. Riggin was just born into it.

Both teens are taking flying lessons and doing the necessary groundwork at the Madison Airport necessary to obtain a pilot's license.

The road to becoming a pilot was rather unusual for Kittelson-Caviness. She grew up near the Miller Airport, but the idea of actually becoming a pilot didn't occur to her until last summer.

"I was attending Camp Victory, a church camp, and got interested while viewing a film about a missionary flier," she said. "I was wearing a necklace with a bird on it. The plane in the film had a bird painted on it. That's all it took."

Kittelson-Caviness travels to Madison from her home in Miller each week to take flying lessons. On June 27, she took her first solo flight.

Scared? Not a bit.

"I loved every minute of it. I wasn't concerned at all," she said. "After about an hour in the air, I landed and I think it was one of my best landings ever."

Students have to do three takeoffs and landings without an instructor in the aircraft.

"Eventually I want to get a commercial pilot's license and do some crop dusting. I don't know of any female crop dusters, so maybe I'll be the first," she said.

Riggin is the son of airport manager Morris Riggin, so it was generally thought that he would become a pilot.

"It was kinda cool seeing my dad fly, so I made up my mind that I wanted to become a pilot too. Both my father and grandfather were fliers. I really wanted to solo on my birthday, Nov. 6, but the weather was lousy. I finally soloed on Nov. 25."

Riggin soloed in a Super Cub -- the same plane his father and brother soloed in.

"Grandpa purchased the plane in 1973. I felt real comfortable in my solo flight. I'd already logged in over 20 hours in the air," he said.

Riggin grew up around the airport.

"I think being a pilot is one of the coolest jobs you can have. There are so many opportunities in flying, from being a crop duster to a commercial pilot for one of the big airlines," he said.

His goal to become a certified flight instructor. He plans to enlist in the Army Air Corps and learn how to work on radios.

"I also hope to get my multi-engine license. I definitely plan on staying in aviation," Riggin said.

Both Riggin and Kittelson-Caviness believe learning to fly is a great opportunity for young people.

"It opens a lot of doors," smiled Riggin.

Kittelson-Cavinessa added, "and it's a lot of fun."

Most colleges don't offer courses leading to becoming a crop duster.

"But what better way to encourage young people to fly than for young people themselves to promote it as both a way to make a living and a way to have an exciting and fun hobby," said Morris Riggin. "It is easy to obtain your pilot's license and who knows? That pilot's license could lead to a job as well as an enjoyable hobby."