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Cadet Wings Pilot: Joining CAP 'One of the Best Decisions ... in My Life'

Cadets from the Virginia and Texas wings recently earned their private pilot certificates through the Civil Air Patrol Youth Aviation Initiative's Cadet Wings program.

Mission accomplished

TXwingCadet Col. Jacob Brown of the Texas Wing’s Redbird Composite Squadron plans to pursue an aviation career and will attend the U.S.  Coast Guard Academy, majoring in government. Brown intends to become an adult CAP member to give back and mentor cadets like those who have mentored him.

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

TXredbirdEarning my certificate through the wings program is one of my most significant achievements and has already begun to open exceptional doors for my future.

Furthermore, earning my certificate allowed me to fly an airplane solo one month before I received my driver’s license – a fantastic feat I will always cherish.

How did your flight instructor assist you?

I had many flight instructors who brought their unique experiences to better prepare me for the big day. They each played a critical role in the achievement of my certificate.

They provided ground instruction before every flight. They went over the basics of flying, such as the principles of flight, aircraft systems, and emergency procedures. They demonstrated flying techniques, including takeoff, landing, and in-flight maneuvers such as turns, climbs, and descents.

Last, they provided feedback after every flight, helping me identify areas where I needed to improve and guiding me on how to do so.

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

My first solo flight was in New Bern, North Carolina, at D2 Flight Academy. In the time leading up to my solo, I was a little nervous as this was my first time flying a plane alone. Most of the apprehension disappeared during the solo, as I was confident flying the aircraft. It was fascinating to be able to fly by myself.

After I completed my solo, I was on top of the world. I felt like I could accomplish anything.

What got you interested in joining CAP? 

Around age 10, my mother introduced me to an aviation camp, and near the end of the training the instructors took us on an orientation ride, much like Civil Air Patrol does. One of the instructors introduced CAP to my parents, and when I was old enough I joined. It later turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Cadet Maj. Samuel Ten

VAwingCadet Maj. Samuel Ten of the Virginia Wing’s Burke Composite Squadron plans to become an airline pilot. His next step is to participate in Purdue University’s professional flight program and obtain a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot License so he can begin flying for an airline at 1,000 hours. 

Ten plans to become an adult member to give back to CAP through orientation flights or active participation in a squadron to inspire future pilots.

BurkeCompositeSquadronPatch_Final_3_876925582F3D0How will earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings help you in CAP?

The experience I can bring to our aerospace education lessons will serve to excite cadets and make such a milestone possible for those in a position I was just a few years ago. I extend my greatest gratitude to Civil Air Patrol and those who help support the Cadet Wings program, because without them my journey to obtaining my certificate would’ve been a tougher one.

Would you recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets? 

The reduced financial strain the program offers is one of the biggest reasons I would recommend it to other cadets interested in flying. Moreover, a supporting cast of adult members and cadets further this development and enthusiasm toward flying. Mentors such as my Ray navigator (provided by a donation from the James C. Ray Foundation) proved to be a huge help.

What got you interested in joining CAP? 

In 2014, I had an international flight to Malaysia that sparked my curiosity about flight. I obsessed over it after that. It wasn’t until 2016 when my family was invited to a friend’s house for lunch. There, a man mentioned Civil Air Patrol, as he was a former cadet and Air Force officer himself. I am forever grateful to him. After his guidance, I immediately searched the program up and began attending meetings soon after as a "stowaway” cadet (as an 11½-year-old)).

Since then, I’ve grown to love Civil Air Patrol’s unique network of members, opportunities such as the Cadet Wings program, and the leadership opportunities it has presented.

Anything else you would like to share? 
The ambitious program set forth by National Headquarters just five years ago is a success! I am very grateful to everyone who has supported the program over the past five years. To any cadet who is thinking of becoming a pilot, it is possible! Study hard and do your homework; the rest will fall into place!

usaflogoIn 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.