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Cadet Wings Pilot Certification: 'Point of Pride That Cannot be Diminished'

Cadets from the Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Texas wings recently earned their private pilot certificate through the Civil Air Patrol Youth Aviation Initiative's Cadet Wings program. 

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TXapolloCadet 2nd Lt. Jake Arrington of the Texas Wing’s Apollo Composite Squadron plans to become an airline transport pilot and travel the world. He plans to train for an instrument rating nd from there to pursue the commercial license. 

How will earning your private pilot certificate help you at CAP and in your future career? 

Achieving the certificate through the Cadet Wings program will be extremely beneficial to my future career. My dream is to become an airline transport pilot. I have learned some of the fundamental principles of being a safe and competent pilot by attaining the certificate. The skills that I have learned will undoubtedly serve me well while I continue my flight training. 

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot? 

I found in myself the ability to stay calm under stressful circumstances and to think logically through possible hazardous situations. 

Describe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo.

When my flight instructor first told me that I was ready to solo, many emotions flooded my head, such as excitement, nervousness, and anticipation. When it was my first time flying alone in the traffic pattern at my local airport, it was truly a thrilling experience that I will never forget. After I landed, it felt so surreal that I managed to pilot the aircraft all by myself. 

Would you recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets? 

I would 100% recommend the Cadet Wings program to anyone who has the desire to become a pilot, even if you don't plan on pursuing it as a career. 

PPL Certificate

NJpicatinnyFormer Cadet Lt. Col. Alan Yeung of the New Jersey Wing’s Picatinny Composite Squadron just transitioned to being an adult member of CAP. Yeung will graduate this fall in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech and plans to pursue a master’s degree. This summer, he will join NASA mission operations contractor KBR as a mission operations intern working with the International Space Station. His goal is to pursue a career in space exploration. 

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you? 

Earning my certificate is a true sense of accomplishment. It is a point of pride that cannot be diminished. It's an accomplishment that required so much hard work. My certificate is a statement to myself that I have the capabilities to succeed and excel despite adversity and obstacles. 

Was there ever a time where you thought you weren’t going to make it, and how did you overcome that obstacle? 

There were so many ups and downs in my training. I wasn't able to start training again until a year after my solo, and it was demoralizing having to relearn what was instinct during my solo. 

To add to that, being in college and then moving back to New Jersey and then working a full-time internship while trying to do flight training was extremely challenging. There were multiple times when I was upset by my lack of progress or lost confidence in myself. The biggest challenge I faced when learning to fly was managing the navigation aspect with the actual flying. I have extreme respect for pre-GPS pilots. It was incredibly challenging to maintain situational awareness while navigating via a chart and landmarks you've set. 

What got you interested in joining CAP? 

While I had always been interested in aerospace, flying actually wasn't the reason I joined CAP. It did end up being a major, positive bonus to my experience. I was incredibly interested in the emergency services and leadership aspects that CAP could give me. 

CAP is a rare organization that allows middle- and high-schoolers to take on responsibilities that allow them to excel beyond their station. Cadets are entrusted with equipment and emergency services missions that have major consequences to the victims involved should we fail – be that a lost hiker, taking photos of hurricane damage, or delivering crucial blood, food, and supplies around the country. 

Anything else you would like to share? 

A huge thanks to the four flight instructors that took time out of their lives to get me to where I am now: Lt. Col. Mario Accardo, Capt. Adam Fitting, and senior members David Jennings and Laura Salamanca. These CAP flight instructors went above and beyond to get me to where I am now. 

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FLwingCadet Senior Master Sgt. Adam Braman of the Florida Wing’s North Palm Beach County Composite Squadron plans to become a commercial airline pilot and achieve ratings all through ATP. He will attend the Florida Institute of Technology to complete the remainder of his flight training. 

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you? 

First, it shows that hard work will eventually pay off. I’ve never worked harder to achieve anything in my life than I have my certificate. I’ve spent many hours whether in the air flying or on the ground studying and practicing material every chance I got. Whether it was studying books for hours a day or practicing maneuvers with my flight instructor in the hot Florida climate, I never let a second go wasted without doing something that would benefit me in my flight training 

 Second, it shows that if you have a dream, pursue it regardless of how difficult it may seem. Flying airplanes has always been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old, but it’s not like you can simply jump in a plane and become a pilot. It takes years of dedication, perseverance, and hard work to become the best pilot possible. 

How will it help you in CAP and in your future career? 

Becoming a private pilot is a great achievement, but it is only a small step in my career. I have various other ratings I plan to achieve and hours to build before I become a professional pilot. However, earning my certificate has taught me that if I put in the hard work, then anything is possible. 

Describe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo. 

I was extremely excited before, during, and after my solo in the pattern for the first time. I felt an immense sense of confidence because I was in control of an airplane for the first time without any assistance from my flight instructor. 

What got you interested in joining CAP? 

I have always been interested in aviation, so I felt CAP would be a great way to enhance my passion and learn more about the industry. 

New pilot

SDsiouxfallsCadet Lt. Col. Keon den Hoed of the South Dakota Wing’s Sioux Falls Composite Squadron plans to eventually fly corporately for local businesses in his area. Also, he wants to be a flight instructor part- time and when not instructing to fly for charters and help with the upkeep of his local airport. 

How will earning your private pilot certificate help you at CAP and in your future career? 

It has been a dream of mine to have a career in aviation, specifically in the corporate world. In CAP, it will help me to acquire less expensive hours, and possibly down the road it may allow me to be an asset in search and rescue missions that my squadron and wing are a part of. 

For my career, it has served as a stepping stone toward a major milestone toward what I want. In my life, it has given me much enjoyment and satisfaction knowing I am moving forward on my goals. 

How important was the financial assistance you received for this program in achieving your private pilot certificate? 

A. The financial assistance was invaluable in giving me a shortcut to achieving my certificate. Without this, it would have taken me much longer to have acquired the funds I would have needed. 

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot? 

A. Something I discovered about myself during training was how much I enjoyed studying and learning the knowledge I need to be a successful pilot. When I was younger, I didn't realize all of the technical knowledge you need in order to fly safely. However, the amount of things that I needed to know did not deter me from wanting to continue, but rather fueled the love for aviation I have and to persevere toward getting my certificate. 

Anything else you would like to share? 

A. I would like to thank CAP National Headquarters team for making this amazing opportunity possible. I encourage everyone serious about pursuing aviation to apply for this scholarship. 

In 2019 the U.S. Air Force provided initial funding for and continues to support CAP’s Cadet Wings program, whose goal is to increase the nation’s pilot population. More recently, a donation by the James C. Ray Foundation provides an additional funding source to open horizontal-logo-color_ray-foundationtraining slots for 60 Cadet Wings pilots. These training slots also include a dedicated CAP mentor for the aspiring pilot. Cadets may qualify for up to $10,000 with a James C. Ray Flight Training Scholarship to train for their Federal Aviation Administration private pilot certificate.