Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Dan McDowell
MnDOT Aeronautics 

Their Dreams Took Flight

"A mile of highway will take you a mile down the road, a mile of runway will take you anywhere in the world." mnacecamp.org/experience-ace-camp


December 1, 2018

Photo courtesy of Jean Langdon

L-R Molly, Ellie, Jackie, in front of the Cessna 150 they call "Rolling Thunder."

This is an inspiring story of three forward-thinking Minnesota high school students. They are neighbors and best friends in life, and are now about to launch themselves into building their respective futures.

The focus will be on one student, primarily because of her immediate efforts to give back to the very organization and community that helped guide her to make her dreams take flight, literally.

Elizabeth "Ellie" Langdon, and her friends Jackie Little, and Molly Ruth, are currently Seniors at Prior Lake High School (PLHS), located in Savage, Minnesota. The trio of friends will graduate in the summer of 2019!

They will graduate with a very special skill-set that uniquely distinguishes them from the rest of the PLHS student body. As they walk on stage to receive their High School Diplomas they will (very likely) be the only graduates at PLHS who are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated Private Pilots, and aircraft owners!

Ellie Langdon has grown up with aviation in her life because her mother was employed by Delta Air Lines. Ellie explains, "about two years ago I started to look into career opportunities based on my strengths, weaknesses, interests, etc. A commercial pilot career seemed very exciting to me, in part because of the demand the airlines will have for the next few years. So I decided to attend an aviation camp called ACE Camp.

ACE stands for Aviation Career Education Camp. There, I was immersed in 'all things' aviation for seven days. This included Air Traffic Control, Meteorology, actually flying helicopters, gliders, and fixed wing airplanes.

We also experienced military aviation with, and thanks to, the 934th Airlift Wing at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Base, and much more."

She continued, "I could not have imagined how this aviation camp could have and in fact did change my life. It showed me multiple paths to potentially great careers in the aviation industry. When someone asks me what made me want to be a pilot, I tell them ACE Camp and the 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity the Camp provided. Ultimately ACE Camp was the very start of my passion for flying. I can thank my Mom for suggesting I become a pilot and for guiding me to look into ACE Camp! I can also thank Cheri Rohlfing and a host of ACE Camp counselors and supporters for giving so generously of their time and knowledge to help students like Jackie, Molly, and me, realize a dream."

Langdon's growing passion for aviation and the joy of having her friends on a similar path was evident through her smile and excitement when she spoke. "Jackie, Molly, and I have been best friends (and neighbors) for a long time. We all attend Prior Lake High School and we love aviation." About earning their pilots certificates Ellie shared, "We thought about going through Civil Air Patrol, which is a great program for youth and adults, or perhaps renting a plane, but we discovered it was financially intelligent to purchase our own airplane. That way, we could get our pilots' certificates in a plane that would most often be available on our schedules. All of our parents were on board with that idea and were super excited about owning an aircraft. They were very eager to invest in our futures and that is exactly what they did!"

Ellie explained, "Once we found a plane that would meet our needs, we purchased it and currently keep it in a hangar at Airlake Airport in Lakeville, Minnesota. We call the Cessna 150 'Rolling Thunder'." She added with a big smile, "Initially we called it Butterscotch because it is a darker yellow that looks exactly like butterscotch." As of this writing (early August 2018), she says "I have about 20 hours thus far and plan to earn my Private by the end of summer, early fall.

Talking about her future plans Langdon said," I plan to be a commercial pilot and hopefully fly for Delta Airlines. I have not ruled out the military route to get there, or perhaps attending an impressive four-year aviation college." She paused momentarily and then continued, "Molly and Jackie and I have the same aviation goal in mind ultimately. It is really exciting and fun to be able to pursue our goals together. We all want to fly for the airlines! By the way, the three of us took our college level aviation ground school training at Mankato last winter. Our instructor, was Cheri Rohlfing, a Delta A-320 pilot, and she is also the Director of ACE Camp!"

When asked about her desires for ACE Camp she replied, "I plan to continue volunteering to support ACE Camp. I intend to become and ACE Counselor in the near future. I want to give back to ACE and the aviation friends (as well as the aviation community) I met there including the Counselors and Directors, this way I can help inspire other students to work hard to achieve their goals, and to believe in their dreams.

Ellie Langdon shared one last important thought saying," When given an opportunity to have your eyes opened about something you have an interest in, take advantage of that opportunity! Why? Because you never know what (hangar?) doors will be opened for you, and what new paths will become available for you to travel. It is exciting to discover where the next road (or taxiway) may lead you.

Photo courtesy of Jean Langdon

Ellie with her T-shirt commemorating her first solo flight.

If you want to make your dreams take flight, now is the best time to make that happen! Don't worry about the process. Focus on the journey and the goal."

She added with a laugh, "Time will fly by!"

When asked if she had anything else to share she said "to my family, Cheri Rohlfing, and ACE Camp, THANKS for this great opportunity!"

One of our Nation's greatest First Ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt, is well known as a forward thinker who once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Clearly, Ellie, Jackie and Molly have proven, Mrs. Roosevelt was right!

Now is the right time to expand the envelope of your skills, knowledge, capabilities and dreams. You can make this day the day when your dreams take flight.


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