Hanover Teen Earns Solo Wings at Maine Academy

Erika Tischbein, of Hanover, earned her solo wings earlier this month at a the Civil Air Patrol powered flight academy in Bangor, Maine. Tischbein, a member of the Lebanon Composite Squadron, flew the Cessna 172 pictured here. McKenna Walford photograph

Erika Tischbein, of Hanover, earned her solo wings earlier this month at a the Civil Air Patrol powered flight academy in Bangor, Maine. Tischbein, a member of the Lebanon Composite Squadron, flew the Cessna 172 pictured here. McKenna Walford photograph

Hanover — For 17-year-old Erika Tischbein, the best part of flying is being able to go wherever she wants.

“You are in control of the airplane,” said Tischbein, a Hanover resident who recently earned her solo wings at a powered flight academy in Bangor, Maine.

The academy, sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol, includes on-the-ground teaching, “hands on” flight time with an instructor, and, for those who are ready, the chance to fly alone. Tischbein was “really nervous” as she started her solo flight, which she made in a Cessna 172. “Then, I checked all my gauges, and I was right where I was supposed to be with speed and altitude,” she said.

Earning solo wings is like having a learner’s permit, in that certain rules apply, said Daniel Nash, commander of the 45-member Lebanon Squadron. “You can fly the plane yourself ... but you can’t have any passengers.”

For those who want to earn private pilot license, nailing their solo wings is a step in the right direction.

A cadet with the Lebanon Composite Squadron, Tischbein will spend much of the summer in flight-related pursuits — staffing a Civil Air Patrol camp at Norwich University and working at the annual air show in Oshkosh, Wis. “For now, it’s just something I’m doing for fun,” said Tischbein, a rising senior at Hanover High School. She’s interested in medicine, but, she says, wouldn’t rule out a career in aviation.

— Aimee Caruso