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Danny Scarzello Flies Solo in Airplane

Front Royal, VA— Danny Scarzello of New Market, MD, knows the meaning of patience. 

In the fall of 2013, Danny enrolled in Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) as a sophomore, with his eyes fastened firmly on the school’s optional flight program. By the end of the school year, he was ready to fly his first solo. There was just one problem: he wasn’t old enough yet.  FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations state that an aspiring pilot must be 16 years old to fly solo, and Danny’s birthday wasn’t until June 26th, several weeks after school let out. 

After waiting all summer, Danny returned to R-MA for his junior year and began flying again. He was a bit rusty at first, but on October 10th, R-MA Flight Instructor Ryan Koch deemed him ready to take his first solo flight. An oncoming cloud formation made it unsafe to fly, however, and Danny’s dream was temporarily grounded once again. 

Finally, on October 24, 2014,  Danny finally achieved his first solo flight, successfully completing three successful take-offs and three landings alone in a Cessna 172 airplane at Front Royal-Warren County Airport in Front Royal, VA. 

“I was very nervous at first,” Danny admitted, “but after the first one you realize it’s not too out there, and you kind of relax.” 

Although it was his first solo flight in an airplane, it wasn’t Danny’s first time alone in the sky. Earlier this summer he had flown solo in a glider. He credits his involvement with the Civil Air Patrol on getting him involved in flight and training him how to fly in a glider. 

While Danny’s heart is in the sky with flying, he does not limit himself to that activity. He is also a three-sport athlete at R-MA, participating in varsity cross-country, varsity swimming, and varsity track. 

With his first solo now behind him, this 16-year-old son of Paul and Celeste Scarzello now sets his sight on the next flight goal: earning his private pilot certification. Danny ultimately hopes to attend an aviation college and become a commercial pilot. 

Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12.  Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and have the opportunity to fly in a unique flight program.  R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, Virginia.