Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 19, 2008

Van Meter was youngest pilot to fly solo across the U.S.

03/19/08 — Vicki Van Meter first made national headlines in September 1993. Often flashing a big smile, the sixth-grader at East End Elementary School took a historic solo flight: She flew from Augusta, Maine, to San Diego over five days.

It was no easy journey. At one point, she had to fight strong headwinds and turbulence that bounced her single-engine Cessna 172 and made her sick.

When it was over, she claimed the honor of being the youngest pilot to complete a solo flying adventure across the United States. And it started a nationwide tour in which she appeared on many national TV shows; was a guest at the White House; was presented many awards; and had her picture exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution.

Nine months later, Van Meter flew from Augusta to Glasgow, Scotland, and was credited at the time with being the youngest girl to make a trans-Atlantic solo flight. She battled dizziness brought on by high altitude and declared upon landing: “I always thought it would be real hard, and it was.”

Though operating the plane fully on her own during the “solo” flights, she was accompanied on both by an experienced adult pilot.

Her mother said when the trip to Europe was complete, Vicki gave up flying, although she later took up sky diving which she loved.

Vicki later moved to North Carolina where she graduated from high school. Her family still has its home in Meadville, but spend time between Meadville, North Carolina and Utah — and New York City, where Vicki’s sister, Elizabeth, is pursuing a career in acting. Her brother, Daniel, served two tours of duty in Iraq in the armed forces and now is attending college in New York.

Her mother, Corinne, retired from teaching in North Carolina and now is writing children’s stories.

Vicki’s father, Jim, is retired and has done volunteer work in national forests in Utah.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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