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Posted: Dec 15, 2010  07:05

Sam Testa Has First Solo Flight


by Nathaniel Cheshire
Northern Air Flight Instructor

Saturday, December 11 was a memorable day for local farmer Sam Testa. He showed up at the Boundary County airport wearing boots but immediately changed into sneakers for better rudder control. Sam calmly accomplished the pre-flight inspection of Northern Air's Cessna 172. We pulled it out of the warm hangar, climbed inside, adjusted our seats and reviewed some safety procedures. He cleared the propeller area and engaged the starter. After checking the oil pressure and alternator, Sam tested his radio and taxied the airplane south to runway 2. He completed the flight control and engine run up checks before take-off. We departed and followed the winding Kootenai River northward where Sam successfully handled the airplane through some challenging maneuvers. On the return flight, we flew over Sam's ranch where he enjoys watching elk, deer and wild turkey. Back at the airport, Sam made several good landings in a crosswind. I told him it was time for me to get out. He shut down the airplane in front of the terminal, took a short break and let me out. Sam climbed back into the airplane alone and a little nervous. He started the engine and taxied to the departure end of the runway where he saw a red-tailed hawk observing him. This helped him relax a little. Sam Testa lined up on the runway centerline, applied full power and lifted skyward! His first landing was "the best he ever did" in his own words. He was elated. With a new confidence, Sam returned to the sky to fly over his ranch again as his horses danced beneath him. He made two more beautiful landings as pilot in command before he parked for the day. We celebrated with delicious sparkling cider and the traditional shirt tail cutting.


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