News Release

Senior Alysia Osowski, Grafton, N.D., Completes Student Solo Flight on November 10, 2011, at the Crookston Municipal Airport

By ltollefs on
Friday, November 11, 2011

Alysia Osowski, Grafton, N.D., a senior double majoring in agricultural business and osowski_a.jpgagronomy at the University of Minnesota, Crookston  recently completed her student solo flight at the Crookston Municipal Airport. She completed the flight on November 10, 2011. Her advisor is Mike Vivion, chief pilot on the Crookston campus.

The significance of the first student solo flight cannot be overemphasized.  Landing an aircraft involves very difficult and complex eye-hand coordination. A student pilot begins flight training by learning a wide variety of tasks of which landing is one of the most difficult.  As flight training progresses, the ability to solo is largely predicated upon the flight instructor's assessment of the student's landings. Consistency is critical and sometimes one of the most difficult to achieve as even the best pilot can attest.

Around the middle of a private pilot's flight training, the instructor flies with the student having him/her land. The instructor will exit the airplane and endorse the student pilot certificate and logbook for solo. With that designation, the budding aviator is sent off for three trips around the traffic pattern each followed by that all important landing.

Following American aviation tradition, removing a new pilot's shirt tail is a sign of confidence by the instructor in the student following the completion of the first solo flight. It stems from the days when a student sat in the front seat of the aircraft with the instructor behind. Radios were not a part of early aviation making it necessary for the instructor to tug on the student pilot's shirt tail to get his/her attention. A successful first solo flight is significant in that it means the student can fly without the instructor, and consequently, no longer needs a shirt tail. In observance of this tradition, aviation students at the U of M, Crookston have their shirt tails cut off by the proud instructor, and they are displayed at the Crookston Municipal Airport.

The University of Minnesota, Crookston's aviation program is a partnership in which aviation fundamentals are provided by the University of North Dakota (UND) Aerospace Foundation. To learn more, visit

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers 26 bachelor's degree programs, 18 minors, and 36 concentrations, including 10 online degrees, in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,600 undergraduates from 25 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit