Student Pilot Solos At 91

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Cliff Garl satisfied a lifelong dream and may have set a record of sorts last week. The 91-year-old Shoreline, Wash., student pilot soloed for the first time over Arlington Airport. "You go into a nursing home and you'll see people a lot younger than he just sitting there," Garl's 75-year-old instructor Joe Bennett told The Seattle Times. "I actually don't know of anybody, even in their 80s, who's soloed." According to the Times, the FAA didn't have records of any student pilots over the age of 90 in 2004 and showed only 59 in their 80s. Garl told the Times he was nervous before the flight but once in the cockpit of the Cessna 172, the training took over. As might be expected, the medical was Garl's biggest obstacle -- even though he's in good health. Garl's doctor, Dr. Robert Betts, who happens to be an air medical examiner, put him through a very thorough examination and the verdict was clear. "I saw nothing to disqualify him," Betts told the Times. (Garl's blood pressure of 120/70 may more closely resemble that of a healthy teenager.) Still, the medical process took months to complete. "I think it was a question of who was going to outlast who," Garl told the Times. Garl hopes to get his private or recreational certificate.