Emergency landing. Those words can strike fear into the stoutest of fliers. But Sierra Lund has already been through her first one – as a pilot! Last June, at the age of 17, Sierra was on her first solo cross-country flight as a student pilot when the engine failed at just 400 feet above ground level. Sierra only had seconds to find an open area to make an emergency landing, but her training kicked in and she succeeded in landing the plane on the eleventh tee at Planterra Golf Course. Many student pilots would have given in to their fears and quit, but not Sierra. She fully intended to go up again later in the day, but weather interfered, so she had to wait until the next morning. And she’s been in the air almost every day since. Flying, after all, is her passion.
“I don’t remember a time when aeronautics wasn’t part of my life,” Sierra says. “My dad is a Delta mechanic and we used to fly RC plates in California. After we moved to Peachtree City five years ago, dad got his private pilot’s license and I started working to convince him to let me get mine. I started flying at 17 and finished up this year. I like living big and being in the air is huge – and so peaceful, especially at sunset. I still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to get to do this.”
Sierra’s go-get-‘em attitude has served her well in school, too. She began taking college courses through dual enrollment while in high school and will finish college by age 20. Her goal is to become an entrepreneur and she’s just launched her first business, a blog and podcast dedicated to inspiring others to pursue their dreams. Appropriately named “Keep Flying,” her company will also launch a clothing line in the fall.
“Aviation clothes are just not cute,” she says. “I want to offer comfortable clothes that aren’t cheesy. And I also want to work on fundraisers with clubs that restore vintage airplanes. I’m a vintage airplane youth ambassador and it’s something I really love.”
After the emergency landing, Sierra decided she needed a bit of a break from flight training, so she tried something entirely different: bodybuilding. She’d wrestled in high school and fallen in love with weight training, so bodybuilding seemed like a great physical outlet. She placed fourth in her first competition and is training for another one this summer.
“I love things that are hard to do,” she says. “I like being challenged. Bodybuilding has taught me to push myself, to work harder, and I can use that in every area of life. After the crash, I realized you just need to do what you want to do and not be afraid because you never know. So that’s what I’m doing now.”