Cadets from the Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington wings recently earned their private pilot certificates through the Civil Air Patrol Youth Aviation Initiative’s Cadet Wings program.   

KYwingCadet Maj. Ben Allen of the Kentucky Wing’s Louisville Cadet Squadron hopes to fly for a commercial airline or the National Guard. Allen hopes to pursue an instrument rating and to complete a high performance endorsement.

What does earning your private pilot certificate through Cadet Wings mean to you?
The biggest goal of being in CAP was to earn my private pilot certificate through the Cadet Wings program. It is my first major step toward becoming a commercial pilot. I was so thankful for CAP choosing me to go through this program.

How will it help you at CAP and in your future career?
At CAP, it has grown my knowledge of aerospace tremendously. It is a huge step toward flying for the airlines. In my life, I know that I can achieve the big goals that I set.

KYlvilleDescribe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo?
Before my solo, I was a little nervous about not having my instructor with me, but I was also somewhat confident that we had worked hard in order for this. I knew that he would not let me solo if I wasn’t ready..      

 During my solo, I was able to stay calm (sometimes); however, some things my instructor and I hadn’t practiced a lot came up, and during my flight air traffic control switched patterns a few times for the winds, which made me a little stressed. After my solo I was extremely relieved, and my instructor was really proud of me. Looking back, I am also thankful for the ATC and how they knew I was a student pilot and had patience with me.

Anything else you would like to share?
Don’t ever quit, even if someone else tells you to. If you want to do something, do what it takes to do it. 

Cadet Lt. Col. Ashton Mark Campbell of the Florida Wing’s 463rd Composite Squadron is studying information technology a junior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is interested in both law enforcement and aviation and is also considering Air Force Officer Training School, hoping to fly either the A-10 or KC-135. He is applying for scholarships for instrument rating. Becoming a certificated flight instructor is another goal.

How will earning your private pilot certificate help you at CAP and in your future career?FLwing
One of my new long-term goals is to become a CAP mission and orientation pilot. I believe that the missions CAP flies have such a powerful impact. My first orientation flight sparked my love for aviation. I’ve flown on commercial airliners dozens of times, but there is an indescribable feeling of satisfaction from flying an aircraft yourself. I want to be able to share that same experience with the next generation of cadets and hopefully inspire future aviators. 

After earning my certificate, I started exploring new career options. I am interested in flying for the Air Force, and I am looking into the process of becoming an Air Force pilot. I also have aspirations to eventually serve in federal law enforcement. Earning my pilot’s certificate has given me a lot more potential career choices, and I am carefully considering my options.

How did your flight instructor assist you during the program? 
My instructor, Capt. Ron Creel, was amazing. He always kept his schedule open to make sure we had enough time to fly together. We flew together six days in a row during my first week of training, and I was able to solo my next lesson because of his superior teaching skills. He demonstrates great values and was very patient with me throughout my training. I am very fortunate that he volunteered to teach me. I would not have earned my private pilot certificate without his guidance.

What got you interested in joining CAP? 
My father heard about CAP from a co-worker, and my parents brought me to a local meeting soon after I turned 12. I have remained active in my unit ever since. I love that CAP allows cadets to lead cadets. I was really drawn into the program after seeing other people my age entrusted with leadership positions. The cadet program has an amazing structure and really molded me to be the leader I am today.    

Do you plan to transition to a CAP adult volunteer after your time as a cadet is completed?  
I plan to transition to being an adult member when I age out as a cadet. My experiences as a cadet have been invaluable, and I want to pay it forward to the next generation of cadets. Especially when it comes to aviation, I would love to fly cadets as an orientation pilot once I meet the requirements.   

MNwingCadet Airman Miles Flack of the Minnesota Wing’s Mankato Composite Squadron is qualifying for his instrument rating at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Flack hopes to fly for Delta Airlines after getting enough hours through flight instruction.

How will earning your private pilot certificate help you at CAP and in your career?
It will help me at CAP by making me eligible for missions and to educate my fellow cadets. It will help me in general life by making me a safer and more proficient pilot.

How did your flight instructor assist you during the program, and how did they support your training?
My instructor helped me study the right materials by giving detailed lists and descriptions, learning how to fly the correct way, and how to fill out Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application forms. 

MankatoHow important was the financial assistance you received for this program in achieving your certificate?
The financial assistance was incredibly important because without it I would have had to pause my training in order to get enough money to continue. Thank you so much for the great experience!

What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot?
I discovered the ability to study that I hadn’t tapped into in school because I was interested in flying. I felt amazing (after my solo) and that my dreams of becoming an airline pilot really could come true.

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.