Shaun Carney takes solo flight

AIR FORCE ACADEMY (AP) - Getting into the air is nothing new for Falcons quarterback Shaun Carney, who threw 12 touchdown passes last year. But on Friday, he really was in the air.

The Air Force cadet completed his first solo flight in a DA-20 single-engine aircraft, part of a program that screens students for further flight training.

"You have a lot of people around you when you run an offense," Carney said. "Here it's just you and the plane and a lot of things you can't control."

His flight lasted about 15 minutes and consisted of three takeoffs and landings, some touch-and-go landing-takeoff combinations, and flying in traffic around Cadet Field.

"It got a little congested because there were a lot of planes coming back the same time and when things got close is when the adrenaline was kicking in the most," Carney said.

His flight instructor, Capt. Linda Thorstenson, said he did well.

"He was very much ready, and was one of my best students," said Thorstenson, whose husband is former Falcon linebacker Craig Thorstenson.

"Cadet Carney had very little flight experience before he got here, but picked it up fast."

Carney will make a few more solo flights over the next 10 days and then face an evaluation to determine his future as a pilot.

"This is a screening program, and if the cadets don't get through it, then the Air Force won't send them on to pilot training," Thorstenson said.

After he finished his flight and tied down his aircraft, five other cadets threw him headfirst into a tub of cold water.

"It's a tradition you face after you complete your first solo flight and your last one in this screening program," Carney said. "Now I'm ready to move on."

(Copyright 2007. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)