Ethan Sommers became the first pilot to solo in the history of Eastern Mennonite University at Lancaster’s aviation program. A Lancaster, Pennsylvania resident, Sommers is a first-year student in the new leadership and organizational management bachelor’s degree program with a concentration in aviation.
By the time he graduates, Sommers will have earned a bachelor’s degree as well as private and commercial pilot certificates with an instrument rating and a flight instructor certificate. Flight training is conducted through a partnership with Lititz-based Aero-Tech Services, Inc.
Sommers soloed on Oct. 15. His flight instructor is Michael Hornberger.
Stay tuned for more on EMU at Lancaster’s first pilots!
EMU News checked in with Sommers last week about his latest accomplishment. Here’s the Q & A:
Why you are interested in aviation and when did you make the decision this was in your future?
I am interested in aviation because it is something that I got to learn and experience through flying for my family vacations. Second I made the decision that this was in my future when I went for a discovery flight through Aero-Tech back during my junior year of high school.
How did your first solo go?
My first solo experience was a little nerve racking. Only did I start feeling this way at the point that my instructor hopped out of the plane and told me to have fun. Once I was up in the air, I remembered that this was something I had done many times before, and my confidence built. Once I was up in the sky, I just thought to myself about how much fun I was having. It was an extraordinary experience.
Did you do anything special to celebrate this big step in your career?
My dad had gotten me a shirt that read “first solo flight” with a big check mark through a box. I put this shirt on after I got out of the plane and we took pictures.
Why did you choose Lancaster at EMU for your professional preparation?
I chose this route for education because for me it made sense to go to a program that is so close to home that I am still able to work and live at home. It is also the major I wanted
What are three things you’ve have most enjoyed about the program?
The biggest part of this program that I enjoy the most is the flying aspect. I find it to be so much fun to go up and fly a couple days a week. The second part is the convenience, given that it is so close to home. I’m also pleased that the degree program is offered through a faith-based organization, which is important to me.
What are your professional goals?
My professional goals are to become an airline pilot in one of the major airlines.