All six cadets attending the CAP in-residence Advanced Flight Training Academy in Columbus, Indiana, in July completed their Federal Aviation Administration check rides — earning their private pilot certificates and becoming the 164th-169th cadets to graduate from the U.S. Air Force-funded Cadet Wings program.

“I am impressed with the effort and attention it took to make this year’s academy a monumental success,” said Margarita Mesones, CAP’s cadet aviation career activities manager. “Big congratulations to this group of new minted private pilots and staff that made it possible.”

Cadet Capt. Gabriella Pfang, Cadet Wings graduate No. 164, received her certificate July 25. Her check ride set the pace for the rest of her academy classmates, who quickly followed suit over the next five days. A member of the Texas Wing’s Alamo Composite Squadron, Pfang called the academy “an experience of a lifetime.”

The magnitude of her accomplishment and that of her classmates was not lost on the cadet, who achieved her dream of becoming a pilot while training with CAP flight instructor in CAP planes.

“With regards to learning to fly, the aircraft itself isn’t much different [from others], but I do love walking out to the ramp in the morning and seeing our lineup of red, white, and blue,” Pfang said. “[It helps us] know we are part of a bigger organization.”

The other cadets receiving their certificates were:

  •  Cadet Capt. Rachel Smith (No. 165) of the North Carolina Wing’s Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron, whose check ride came July 28.
  • Cadet Lt. Col. Estelle Roche (No 166) of the Maryland Wing’s College Park Composite Squadron, who completed her check ride July 29.
  • Cadet Lt. Col. Oliver Hewitt-Qualls (No. 167) of the Florida Wing’s 89th MacDill Aviation Cadet Squadron, whose check ride occurred July 29.

            Cadet 1st Lt. Claire Gerber (No. 168) of the Ohio Wing’s Akron Canton Composite Squadron, whose check ride came July 30.

            Cadet Col. Ethan Wegner (No. 169) of the Nebraska Wing’s Omaha Composite Squadron, who completed his check ride July 30.

“I am looking forward to seeing their future aviation goals be accomplished because of the training they received through Civil Air Patrol,” Mesones said. 

“One day, if I am fortunate, I will have the opportunity to ride as a passenger with one of these remarkable young adults as pilot in command.”