Please join the Aviation Department in congratulating Vladimir Poliak ‘20 on earning his solo pilot endorsement. Vlad flew solo for the first time on February 26, 2020, in a Cessna 172 aircraft, tail number N99265, at Albert Whitted Airport.
Vlad, a 7-day boarding senior from the Czech Republic, hadn’t always wanted to fly, but it was the reason he chose Farragut.
“I saw on the Farragut website that they offer aviation and that’s one of the main reasons I decided to come here,” he said. “It was something unknown that I wanted to explore.”
For the last three years, he’s been exploring that unknown, and after waiting a while for the weather to cooperate, he finally got to earn his solo endorsement.
“The solo endorsement is the first step in meeting the requirements of a private pilot certificate,” said Rob Ewing, director of the aviation program at Farragut. “Vlad has made steady progress each week and communicates exceptionally well with air traffic control. He has demonstrated the ability to safely navigate and communicate in the complex airspace surrounding the Tampa Bay region.”
“When I first got into the airplane that day, I didn’t know I was going to solo,” Vlad said. “We just flew around the airport in a pattern for a little bit, and then Mr. Ewing said, ‘okay, everything was good, want to do it on your own?’ And I was like, “‘oh, definitely!’ So I dropped him off next to the runway. He was just standing there watching me and I took off and it was just amazing. I felt a little nervous, you know, but not too much to make me shake, I was just very aware of what I was doing. But as soon as I got into the air I just started cheering, because it was amazing.”
Flying is a freeing feeling for Vlad. Farragut can be very academically intense, so it feels nice for him to get away for a while. “Flying above school and seeing everything below, and just knowing that I’m up there and that nothing’s binding me feels wonderful,” he said.
Vlad is also involved in Scuba, Sailing, and Orienteering at Farragut. Though he enjoys flying, he looks at it as more of a hobby than a potential profession. “I want to do something with business,” he said. “Maybe aviation business, who knows? I am planning to go to Lynn University. A lot of people are going there from Farragut, so it’s going to be nice seeing some friendly faces.”
Above all, Vlad ascribes his success to his teachers. “Mr. Ewing, Mr. Hercher, and Mr. Aber are amazing instructors and coaches, and they gave me a lot of things that I need,” he said. “It’s just amazing to fly with them. They’re a fun bunch.”