Cadets from the California, North Carolina, and Virginia wings recently earned their private pilot certificates through the Civil Air Patrol Youth Aviation Initiative’s Cadet Wings program, bringing the total number of new cadet pilots completing the program to 156.

Cadet 1st Lt. Laramie Uhles of the California Wing’s Jon E. Kramer Composite Squadron 10 is pursuing his dream of becoming a fixed-wing medevac pilot. Currently a dispatch coordinator at an aeronautical university, he plans to pursue commercial and multi-engine training to fly corporate aircraft until he has the hours needed to be a medevac pilot. 

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

CAWG graphicA. Cadet Wings gave me the opportunity to earn my PPC in a shorter period of time and without the financial burden I would’ve otherwise had. Not only that, it has given me some world-class opportunities to meet people as well as gain knowledge that has given me a leg up for my career. 

Q. How will it help you at CAP?  In your future career? In your life in general?

A. Completing my (PPC) has given me the basis to begin building the hours I need to be a transport mission pilot and later on a mission pilot with CAP. Along with that, it has also given me the opportunity to assist other cadets on their journey of flight. Earning my PPC at a somewhat young age has given me plenty of time to work toward my instrument, commercial, and multi-engine ratings for my future goal of flying fixed-wing medevac flights. 

Q.  What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot?

A. Gaining the freedom to make the right decision has helped me a lot, not only in flying but in my everyday life. Along with that, knowing that with the help of my CFI (certificated flight instructor), friends, and family I was able to complete one of my biggest personal goals in a matter of a couple months.

Q. Anything else you would like to share?

A. Civil Air Patrol has given me more opportunities than I could’ve ever imagined. I have made best friends for life in this program, and the program has given me the life skills to succeed for the long term.

Cadet Tech. Sgt. Kevin Zischke of the Virginia Wing’s Danville Composite Squadron hopes to fly with a regional airline and work toward being a captain for a major airline or cargo transport airline. He also plans to be a CFI at  Danville Regional Airport with Averett University Aeronautics, teaching students like him who have a strong interest in aviation.  

Q. What did you discover about yourself while training to be a pilot? 

A. I discovered that I really enjoy checklists and flows to make sure I look over all my instruments and equipment on the ground to make sure I am all good to go fly. This carries over into life so I can have a clear to-do list to make sure I get tasks done that I need to.  

Q. How did your CFI assist you during the program? What things did your CFI do that supported your training?  

VAwingA. My CFI was extremely encouraging throughout my training, as this can be a long and difficult process to navigate. He communicated with me in ways that I could understand the objective in each lesson in the air and on the ground.  

Q. What does earning your PPC through Cadet Wings mean to you?  

A. Earning my PPC through Cadet Wings means so much to me because of the reward that you receive from all of the hard work you put into the program. It is extremely satisfying and rewarding for those who are willing to commit the hours upon hours of ground school and instruction to get to the place that I am right now … (and) will help me in CAP to show the younger cadets that great things are achievable with hard work and dedication.

Q. Would you recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets? 

A.  I would highly recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets looking at advancing their training as a pilot. It is a fantastic tool to use to begin educating oneself in the aviation community and jump-start any aviation career.  

Cadet 2nd Lt. Rylee Emaus of the North Carolina Wing’s Hickory Composite Squadron hopes to fly for the U.S. Air Force, possibly in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve. Emaus graduated high school early, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics at Liberty University, and plans to earn an instrument rating this fall.

Q. What got you interested in CAP?

NCwingA. A balsa wood airplane I played with in my grandparents’ backyard. I would adjust everything on it to try and make it fly farther and higher, and eventually I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to do this in a real plane?”  My parents told me there was this thing called Civil Air Patrol where I could fly actual airplanes, and I was sold. 

Q. Was there ever a time where you thought you weren’t going to make it? How did you overcome that obstacle? What was your biggest challenge about learning to fly?

A.  Sometimes I thought that I just didn’t have what it took to get to the level of proficiency required to complete my check ride. But I silenced that annoying little voice by rolling up my sleeves and working harder. I refused to let it get loud enough to change my trajectory. My biggest challenge was reading and memorizing all the regulations. I would tell someone else in this situation if you want it, then get to work. Ask good questions. Seek answers. Take the opportunities. Anyone can get there, but no one gets there by accident. 

Q. Would you recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets?

A. I would definitely recommend Cadet Wings to other cadets – but only if they’re willing to work for it. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to do this properly. If you make it all the way through this experience you will come out the other side with a great skill, an amazing experience, a head start on a possible career, and more grit than you ever knew you had. 

Q.  Describe how you felt before, during, and after your first solo. Where did you fly?

A. My first cross-country solo was to Toccoa, Georgia. Before I took off, I was nervous. I guess I just borrowed the instructor’s confidence until my muscle memory kicked in, I hit the traffic pattern, and then I was fine. Once you are up there you get out of your own head. Everything just fades away for a little bit, and you’re focused only on the task at hand. Afterward my perfectionist side kicked in, and I started taking note of all my little mistakes so I could get better. I am still learning how to balance enjoying my successes with learning from my failures. usaflogo

In 2019 the U.S. Air Force provided initial funding for and continues to support the Cadet Wings program, whose goal is to increase the nation’s pilot population.

horizontal-logo-color_ray-foundationMore recently, a donation by the James C. Ray Foundation provides an additional funding source to open training slots for 30 Cadet Wings pilots. These training slots also include a dedicated CAP mentor for the aspiring pilot. Cadets may qualify for up to $10,000 through the Ray Foundation scholarships to train for their Federal Aviation Administration private pilot certificate.