Name: Sarah Cannon
- Age: 18
- School: Narragansett High School
- Accomplishment: Sarah Cannon decided to aim high — 4,500 feet high – when she decided on the goal of earning her solo pilot’s certificate for her senior project.
The solo pilot’s certificate is not a private pilot’s license; it is simply a verification of knowing how to fly a single engine plane. She plans on continuing on to get her license, hopefully by the end of this year.
The senior project is the culmination of four years of hard work throughout the high school journey, so students put a lot of thought and creativity into their decision. Cannon had some personal inspiration underlying her project goal of attaining her solo pilot’s certificate.
“When I was about 12 years old my Dad took my sister and I for a plane ride in Westerly. The pilot of the plane let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat and she showed me the gauges and demonstrated steep turns. I was thrilled by the experience. When I was younger I had always dreamed of flying like Peter Pan. Senior project gave me the opportunity to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing. I knew I wanted to fly ever since I was little.”
The surprising twist on this project, however, is that she is afraid of heights. After one week of training, however, she overcame her fear because the experience of flying was so overwhelming.
“It was awesome! My project gave me an opportunity to see if I wanted to fly as a hobby or join the Air Force, which I still haven’t decided yet. I know that I will continue flying because I want to do something with risk and meaning.”
Her first flight was on Sept. 25, and she has met with her mentor Robert Haines 22 times so far. Haines has also been in the Air Force for 22 years.
Cannon speaks of the exciting and the challenging parts of learning to fly saying that one of the most exciting moments was when she started landing the plane without her mentors help adding that recently she did so with a gusting 30 mile per hour cross wind!
The most challenging part was the beginning lessons.
“Sometimes I tried too hard to make each flight perfect and it turned out in disappointment. I was always tense and anxious. All I had to do was to relax. It was hard for me to concentrate if I didn’t relax,” she shares honestly.
Her flight route begins at Newport Airport. It includes flying over Tiverton, which is her practice area where she does maneuvers. She has also flown to different airports such as Westerly, New Bedford, and Plymouth.
“It is important for me to be familiar with different airports since flying involves going from one airport to another. During practice we fly at an altitude of about 3,000 feet. Touch and go altitude is no more than 1,200 feet. I have reached an altitude of 4,500 feet, what a view!”
Earning a pilot’s certificate is not inexpensive. It cost about $4,500. She helped to pay for a portion of this by saving money from her summer job at the beach as well as using some of her savings account. Her family helped pay for the rest.
The senior project can be overwhelming for many students, especially if they have difficulty pinpointing what they might like to do.
Cannon has some smart advice for underclassman about preparing for their project starting with begin thinking about it as early in high school as possible.
Next — do not fall behind in your senior project deadlines.
“Senior project is a great opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do. It opens connections for your future and provides you a great experience,” Cannon exudes with enthusiasm.
And here’s some more smart and heartfelt advice from this focused young lady.
To the underclassmen: Get involved in extra-curricular activities both in school and in your town, it is extremely important, this is what colleges want to see. There is more to high school than lamenting over your appearance, so don’t waste your time. Do your school work and study hard. High school flies by and will be over before you know it. Teachers are more than happy to help so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, that’s what they are there for. What you do in high school will affect your future. Think before you speak. Analyze before you act. Everything you do makes a difference. Procrastination is addicting, so beware. Make no regrets and achieve high standards. This is not a pep talk; this is advice from a senior who has been there.
With graduation just weeks away, Cannon has not yet decided on what her major will be, so she plans on attending CCRI her first year of college before transferring. She plans on joining the ROTC Air Force during her junior and senior year of college.
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