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Young pilots conclude record cross-country flight at Gillespie Field

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Hansen and Scharle in Pegegrine FA-04 Light Sport Aircrart

Matt Hansen and Jessica Scharle have set a record for transcontinental flight in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) by flying from Cecil Field near Jacksonville, Florida, to Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California in a single day. Their purpose was to demonstrate LSAs as a viable mode of transportation for long distance flight and to raise awareness of programs that provide flight training scholarships for people with physical disabilities. (Additional information on this program is available at

Hansen is a 23-year-old commercial pilot and flight instructor who also teaches flying to persons with disabilities. Twenty four year-old Jessica Scharle is one of Hansen’s former students who is an Able Flight Scholarship recipient and earned her Sport Pilot certificate last year. Jessica was born with a condition that essentially fused all of her joints together. She has overcome obstacles throughout her life and has taken on challenges, such as flying, that many would not attempt. Jessica shared equally in the piloting of the aircraft on this historic trip.

The two pilots made their record-setting flight in a Peregrine FA-04 factory-built Special Light Sport Aircraft. The aircraft carries 30 gallons of fuel and flies at an average ground speed of 110 knots. They left Cecil Field Monday morning, June 8, at 6:05 a.m. (EDT) and landed successfully at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California at 10:42 p.m. (PDT), making various refueling stops along the route. Taxiing up to the ramp at Gillespie they were met by family members and media.

Asked what was the hardest part of the trip, the two replied in unison, "Texas." When asked what their plans are now, the response was to rest a bit and enjoy San Diego.