Cadet Capt. David Cavazos II of the Texas Wing’s Marauder Composite Squadron is the 200th cadet to earn his wings through CAP’s Cadet Wings program.
He joins a pair of Texas Wing cadets, Emma Herrington and Andrew Wilson, who also earned Cadet Wing milestones — as the program’s first and 100th participants, respectively, to receive their private pilot certificates.
Cavazos received his certificate following a check ride with a Federal Aviation Administration examiner Sept. 21 at Conroe/North Houston Regional Airport. He described the experience as “quite exhilarating.”
“To be the 200th cadet to receive my private certificate through Cadet Wings is amazing,” Cavazos said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to even begin my training through CAP, and I thank God that I have made it this far in my endeavors to become a pilot.”
Upon hearing the news, Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP’s national commander and CEO, chimed in with a congratulatory message.
“Congratulations to Cadet Cavazos on becoming the 200th graduate of the Cadet Wings program,” Phelka said. “This milestone offers us an opportunity to celebrate the success that happens when dedicated and hard-working cadets take advantage of the opportunities provided by generous funding from the Ray Foundation and the United States Air Force. Cadet Cavazos joins the ranks of CAP cadets helping to overcome the nation’s pilot shortage crisis. Well done!”
Initially funded by the U.S. Air Force to offset the nation’s pilot shortage, the 3½-year-old merit-based Cadet Wings program is the opportunity of a lifetime for cadets like Cavazos, who have earned their wings despite the challenges of ground school and flight training and the restrictions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past year, the Ray Foundation has joined in the effort by providing $330,000 toward the program. Cavazos is the 12th Cadet Wings participant to receive his pilot’s certificate with funding from the Ray Foundation.
“Their investment has now helped fulfill the dreams of a dozen of our youth,” said Margarita Mesones, CAP’s cadet aviation career activities manager. “It has helped to launch these cadets toward career goals they could previously only dream about.”
Cavazos hopes to eventually become a military aviator. “I do hope to fly an F-22 one day, and attaining this certificate is one step closer to that goal,” he said.
For now, he’ll enjoy flying – including, he hopes, CAP search and rescue missions in the future. “That way, I can gain more flight experience while also assisting those in need,” he said.
“Helping people in dire situations was one of my main motivators to join CAP, and now, with the proper training, I can do exactly that.”
Cavazos is the 19th cadet in Texas to earn his wings in over the past 3½ years, including Herrington and Wilson.
“Unfortunately, I do not know the first or 100th pilot from the Cadet Wings program, but if given the opportunity to meet them, I would love to do so,” he said.
His advice to future CAP cadets interested in learning to fly? “If you have a dream, you should go for it, even if everyone else thinks you can’t,” Cavazos said. “That way, you can look back and see how far you have come instead of looking back and wondering ‘what if.’”