Andrew Solano, Skyfield Flightworks
Andrew is a USPPA-rated paramotor instructor, lifelong aviator and adventurer, Chihuahua rescuer, and retired Marine Corps veteran. One of Andrew Solano’s earliest memories is that of a small remote control hang glider which hung in the corner of his bedroom that his father, also an aviator and Marine Corps veteran, brought back from his adventures in Okinawa, Japan — this hanglider was a small part of what initially sparked his lifelong infatuation with the miracle of human flight. As a young boy, Andrew grew up homebuilding airplanes and ultralights with his father in his driveway, and at the age of 12, moved to Okinawa with his family. It was there in Okinawa, just before his 13th birthday, that Andrew experienced his first solo flight on a paraglider, which set the rest of his life on a new and exciting path. At that point in time, Andrew was the youngest certified paragliding pilot in the world. “It changed everything,” said Andrew. “Paragliding was never far from my heart after that.”
He then built and flew his own ultralight throughout high school before enlisting in the Marine Corps and becoming an Airframes and Hydraulics Mechanic for AV-8B Harriers for 12 years. In the last 8 years of his career, Andrew worked as an Airframes and Hydraulics for the F-35B, during the first several years of its initial integration. Meanwhile, he rediscovered his love for paragliding while stationed in Yuma, AZ, took up paramotoring, and served in the schoolhouse as an Airframes and Hydraulics for both the AV-8B and F-35. There, he gained experience as an educator, learned new techniques, and honed skills which he continues to employ, develop, and refine as a paramotor instructor today. After 20 years of service to the United States, Andrew made the decision to retire because he knew in his heart that becoming a paramotor instructor and school owner was the only thing that would ultimately make him happy — therefore, it had to be the foundation of his next life chapter.
Shortly after retiring in 2017, Andrew met Jon Eisele while he was teaching a class on Human Factors & Safety at Aviator PPG. With their shared backgrounds, training philosophies, leadership experiences, passions for instructing, hearts for aviation, and brotherhood as Marines, Jon and Andrew quickly became loyal friends and trusted training partners. Andrew eagerly asked Jon to mentor his growth as an instructor and to help develop the training curriculum at Skyfield Flightworks in Ridgeland, SC; Jon quickly accepted, and fuel met flame. After a very successful few years, in 2019, Andrew chose to temporarily mothball Skyfield Flightworks, in order to move his operations to Dunnellon, FL as an extended campus of Aviator PPG’s operations, where he served as the School Manager.
Andrew considers himself very fortunate to have attended numerous flying expeditions alongside renowned paramotor and paragliding adventurer, Jeff Hamann. In 2017, he was a part of an expedition to Peru in which three paramotors flew 500 miles down the southern Peruvian coast. He later participated in the Humboldt Invitational, which was a gathering and paramotor adventure trip down the California coast for any adventurer that had previously attended a Hamann expedition.
Andrew remains passionate about sharing his love of flight and developing quality paramotor pilots who respect the sport. In 2020, Andrew made new plans to relaunch Skyfield Flightworks, based upon everything that he’d learned since retiring from the Marine Corps — you can expect to read updates on the second integration of Skyfield Flightworks in the near future.