Prodigy pilot: She's 4-foot-2 and needs aluminum extensions to help her reach the rudder pedals. But size isn't slowing pilot Jessica Dubroff, a 7-year-old girl from Pescadero, Calif., who hopes to make history by flying a four-seater Cessna 177B Cardinal airplane across the country and back.
"I can't wait," said Jessica, a student pilot for just four months. She plans to take off Wednesday from Half Moon Bay Airport with her father, Lloyd Dubroff, and her flight instructor, Joe Reid, as co-pilot.
"Joe said, `I'll sleep; you'll fly,' " said Jessica, who will log her hours. To set the record, she must do all the flying - about 40 to 50 hours during the 6,500-mile trip. "She wouldn't let Joe get within two inches of the controls unless she really has to," said her mother, Lisa Blair Hathaway.
Jessica, who has racked up about 30 hours of flying time, will fly three to four hours at a time with one or two stops a day.
She also plans a trip to Washington, where she would like to visit the White House. She has written to President Clinton to invite him on a 15-minute plane ride.
"I guess Jess is getting her 15 minutes of fame early," said her father. "I'm actually more nervous about her riding horses."
Federal Aviation Administration regulations say Jessica must be 16 years old before she is able to fly solo. She doesn't mind waiting. "I'm going to fly till I fly solo, fly till I die," she