Eyes on the sky12/01/2020 12:22PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The magical day a person obtains a driver’s license is an event that most people remember when they look back on their lives. But for Lars Trone of Lincoln University, that day for him did not involve a car, nor had he achieved the minimum driving age of 16.
Lars, 14, an eighth grader at Fred S. Engle Middle School, obtained his student pilot’s certificate to fly glider planes on July 26. That is his birthday.
His excitement on that day was further enhanced by the efforts of individuals at the Federal Aviation Administration who made sure his student pilot certificate arrived on time for his special day when they were informed of his date of birth.
By having his certificate in hand, Lars is allowed to solo in a glider – a plane that has no motor but is propelled by wind currents. To date he has flown solo 15 times.
The journey to the certificate was no cakewalk, but given Lars’ apparent talent and love of flying, it proceeded rather smoothly.
Lars’ father, Richard Trone, said the adventure began when he and Lars were returning home, disappointed from an event that had unexpectedly been cancelled. As they passed by the New Garden Airport, they decided to stop by and just take a look at things.
As they approached the hangar that held the gliders, Richard said Lars was suddenly struck by the love by what he saw. Immediately he told his father that he wanted to fly.
That experience further took root by the incidental passing by of Dave Anderson, an instructor with the Brandywine Soaring Association, a group of about 60 enthusiasts who own and maintain the gliders in that particular hangar.
Anderson told Lars that he and the association members were happy to take him under their wings and help in his pursuit of this dream.
For the next two years, Anderson worked with Lars to hone the flying skills in the air as well as master the knowledge contained in the syllabus potential flyers are required to understand.
In a recent interview, Lars explained with ease how the controls work and how he feels every time he ascends to the sky. During his training Lars had to perform all maneuvers that would make him a safe pilot.
“It’s a love-hate thing,” he said. “I love the freedom. It’s like life in general, you leave your personal problems on the ground.”
He is proud to add that he is the youngest person the association members can recall who has obtained this student pilot certificate, although there is one individual who achieved it when he was some months older than 14, and there are currently others in the 14-year-old range working on it.
Over the years of preparation and instruction, Lars’ dedication to gliders and flying has grown. So have his aspirations.
If he continues to make progress, he can get his private pilot certificate when he is 16, and with that certificate he can take people up with him. Another year after that, when he reaches 17, he can go for a power solo license that enables him to pilot a plane with a motor. Along the way, he can learn to pilot with instruments, and in the far future there is a dream of a commercial pilot’s license.
Lars would not have been able to reach these achievements without the help of his parents, Richard and Andrea, and he readily praises them for their help. Ironically, although he is allowed now to take the helm of a glider in the air, he is still too young to drive a car to the airport. With that, his father is his enabler, and is usually the one who drives him to the airport so that he can practice.
When asked how he feels about his son’s achievement and pursuit of his goals, Richard said, “When he started, I was very apprehensive, and my wife couldn’t even bring herself to come out to watch. It was apparent early on that he has something special going on, and we would not let our fears get in the way of his success,” he said.
Lars is involved in band and sports at Fred S. Engle Middle School, and he has an older sister, Sofia, who is 16.