Cadets from the Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and Washington wings recently earned their private pilot certificate through the Civil Air Patrol Youth Aviation Initiative's Cadet Wings program.

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Cadet Wings Flight: 'Something Truly Special Through an Amazing Opportunity Provided by CAP'

Cadet Capt. Kane Deterding with his flight examiner, Zack Caldwell.

txsulphur1Cadet Capt. Kane Deterding of the Texas Wing’s Sulphur Springs Composite Squadron plans to continue into a professional career in aviation but is determining the next steps for his career. 

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you? 
Earning my pilot's license is a childhood dream come true, and Cadet Wings has eliminated the financial stress that is typically associated with flight training. This provides an environment built for learning. I discovered that I am able to perform above my expectations and that my mindset really does impact my performance.

Describe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo.
I first soloed at a powered flight academy. Throughout the activity, I was very nervous about whether or not I would be able to solo. Just before my solo, I was sitting in the aircraft after a flight. I had about five minutes to just sit and process what I was about to do. I was extremely nervous about being solo, but once I started the checklists, all the nerves went away, and I didn't comprehend much until I was in the air. I suddenly got very talkative as I realized I was the only one to safely get on the ground again! Once I landed, everything was very surreal. I almost couldn't believe what I had just accomplished. After my solo, I realized that aviation was a career that I did not want to miss out on.

Was there ever a time where you thought you weren’t going to make it?  
I felt like I might not have made it a lot of times, but I reminded myself that I really wanted this, so I would take it step by step to eventually reach my end goal. One thing that I would tell others going through a similar situation is that having confidence in yourself is the key to help you power through.

What got you interested in joining CAP? 
I first joined CAP because I loved the professional and military environment provided by cadets my own age. Then I learned about the opportunity to have an orientation ride; after the first ride, I was hooked. I would like to thank all the support from CAP to achieve my childhood dream!

Cadet Col. Justin Holt

MOtrumansqACadet Col. Justin Holt of the Missouri Wing’s Harry S. Truman Composite Squadron is studying international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Holt is also enrolled in the U.S. Air Force ROTC program through a sister university. He plans to fly for the Air Force before beginning a career as a foreign area officer. He plans to continue flying for CAP and recreationally while in college.

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you? 
I'm incredibly grateful to be a part of a program that could support me in this endeavor. I have dreamed of having my pilot's license since I was a little kid, and Cadet Wings was able to help me achieve it. This goal has allowed me to accomplish a goal that I have dreamed of doing since I knew what airplanes were. This shows me how hard I’ve worked to accomplish my goals and that what I put my mind to is attainable.

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot?
I discovered two things. First, I learned even more study strategies that I didn't know existed. Drawing things out, especially the systems of the aircraft, was a good way for me to study physical things. Second, it is really important to keep learning. I learned and observed that pilots never stop learning, even after getting their next pilot certificate. I will follow my curiosity and continue to learn new things for the rest of my life.

Describe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo.
Before: I was nervous, but I knew that I have been training for this and am completely capable of doing it. I was also very, very excited to solo!

During: It was a transformative experience. Something that I didn't think would happen because of the many setbacks I faced in getting to this point, was finally happening. It is a different feeling being up in the plane alone and the plane felt amazing!

After: I am ready to continue training to feel this again after I get my private pilot certificate. 

What got you interested in joining CAP? 
I initially joined CAP to learn how to fly. My mother's father flew in the Royal Canadian Air Force and then for Air Canada. As a little kid, I learned about his path and wanted to become a pilot as well. Once I joined CAP, I wasn't quite old enough to start flight training, but I fell in love with the leadership aspect of the program, and that has been my primary focus. I was also curious to experience the opportunities that CAP had to offer.

Cadet 2nd Lt. Kade Kirsch and his flight instructor, Jack Graham.

WAdungeCadet 2nd Lt. Kade Kirsch of the Washington Wing’s Dungeness Composite Squadron plans to major in engineering and possibly work for an aerospace company or further his aviation career by flying commercially. Kirsch plans to get an instrument rating and potentiality airline pilot training certification.

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you?
Earning my certificate through the Cadet Wings program and Civil Air Patrol means the world to me: it demonstrates that I have achieved something truly special through an amazing opportunity provided by CAP.

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot?
While flying, I discovered my love for weather. It seems crazy, but learning what conditions cause certain types of weather patterns and how temperature affects, for example, density altitude, is amazing to me. I would have never found this interest if I didn't pursue aviation.

Was there ever a time where you thought you weren’t going to make it?
Nearing my check ride, the idea of me not finishing was constantly present. My check ride was consistently getting moved further away, and time after time I would prepare and then it would be moved again for one reason or another. It felt almost endless, and I just wanted to quit … I took an afternoon to remind myself of everything I loved about flying and how I was already so close.

 I just needed to squeeze out that last bit of motivation I had and power through. To any student who faces this same or similar issue, remember what you are working toward and put that extra effort in – it may be exhausting, but I assure you the reward of your temporary airmen certificate with the words "Private Pilot" will make up for the lost sleep and time spent studying.

What got you interested in joining CAP?
I was interested in joining Civil Air Patrol mostly for the aerospace education opportunities. I always loved the idea of flying, and it seemed like the right kind of program for me. I am very glad that I did because without CAP, I would not be who I am today. I am forever grateful for CAP and how much it has changed my life.


LAlakechasCadet Chief Master Sgt. Abbigale Rougeau of the Louisiana Wing’s Lake Charles Composite Squadron is enrolled in Sowela Technical College in Lake Charles, majoring in accounting, and plans to work in that field until she can pursue an aviation career. Rougeau also plans to become a certificated flight instructor and train Civil Air Patrol cadets the same way she began her training.

How will earning your private pilot certificate help you?
Earning my certificate will help me in CAP to spread my knowledge to the members in my squadron and potentially other squadrons. My certificate will also allow me to further my opportunities to accomplish my goal of becoming a flight instructor and training others.

Did you receive a Ray Foundation Scholarship?
Yes, I received Ray Foundation funding, and my navigator was my dad, Mike Rougeau. The fact that I had my dad to be there for me and provide inspiration and assistance in my flight training was extremely meaningful to me. My dad encouraged me to study hard, he helped me to get to and from the airport, and he also helped me through encouragement whenever I was struggling. After I got my certificate the first nonpilot I flew with was my dad. I am so incredibly grateful for the Ray Foundation for the funding they provided and my dad for being there throughout my journey.

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot?
I discovered that I could do every task given to me if I applied myself. This discovery increased my confidence in my abilities. 

What got you interested in joining CAP?
 I joined Civil Air Patrol after a rough period in my life. CAP offered a lot of opportunities to make friends and grow as a person, which was what I needed when I joined. I also really enjoyed the structure of CAP and future leadership opportunities I would have once I ranked. For me joining CAP was a life-changing decision. I have grown exponentially as a person and a leader during my three years of being a member. I have also had some amazing opportunities to discover career opportunities, and through this I found the career I wanted to pursue. 

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 training 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.