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Civil Air Patrol teaches kids flying and leadership lessons
Date published: 9/12/2012
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
Sixteen-year-old Georganna Grizzard stood
"I'm a little nervous," she said. "I don't think I've quite gotten used to the idea that I'm going to get in that plane and fly it."
Georganna and a handful of other Fredericksburg-area teenagers were getting a chance to fly this past Sunday. They're cadets in the Civil Air Patrol, an Air Force-funded program offering aerospace education and leadership training to teens.
Cadets won't get the level of flight training they'd need to pilot a plane on their own, but they do all get a chance to take the controls at "non-critical" stages of flight, after an instructor gets the plane airborne.
Joshua Walter, 14, took his first turn at the controls Sunday.
"I thought it was amazing," he said. "It was very delicate, a little bit more than I was expecting. Simulators make it look so much easier."
Joshua joined the CAP cadet program because he wants to join the military. Specifically, he wants to be a pilot for the Navy, flying aircraft from ships.
"None of my friends are going to believe me when I tell them I got to fly a plane," Joshua said.
Fourteen-year-old Grayson Sloper, who took his first turn at the controls on his 14th birthday, agreed, saying his own friends didn't believe him till he showed them a photo.
Grayson is interested in an Air Force career one day. He thinks the CAP program will help prepare him for that.
"They have a really strong basis in leadership," he said.
The cadets' day in the air was supposed to happen Saturday, but was postponed due to windy weather. Despite Sunday's bright skies, the young wannabe pilots did encounter some wind.
Fourteen-year-old Jeremiah Browne liked that.
"It's fun when you hit turbulence," he said, explaining that the turbulence forced him to think more about how to use the controls.
Jeremiah said he wants to join the Air Force someday.
Georganna doesn't--she just wanted to learn to fly. She had friends in the CAP program who encouraged her to join, saying the CAP kids were more respectful of each other than typical teenagers.
"The opportunity to learn to fly is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing," she said. "It's so different from anything you could ever do. It's not like driving."
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028