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Three Iredell Composite Squadron Cadets Earn Their Solo Wings in July 2019

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C/1st Lt Josiah Gandy flew his solo in a CAP Cessna 172. Photo Credit: CAP Col Rowan Butler Powered Flight Academy Public Affairs staff. (click image to view full size)
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NC-162 cadets take 3 different paths to flight

8/30/2019––Like many cadets, C/1st Lt Josiah Gandy joined CAP to fly. He finally got his opportunity when he was accepted into the Col Rowan Butler Powered Flight Academy, one of the most competitive NCSA’s CAP offers. He was immediately immersed in aviation through a week-long accelerated flight schedule. Each day started and concluded with flight lessons and four to six hours of advanced ground school topics were covered in the afternoons. “It’s very high intensity academically,” he explained. “You’re studying immediately after you get out of class, and you don’t really have a break for the first four days.”  The long classroom hours were worth it when C/1st Lt Gandy reached eight hours of flight time and was approved to solo. He flew the airport’s traffic pattern once and touched down on the runway. To celebrate the solo flights in U.S. Air Force style tradition, the cadet’s shirt tails were cut off and he was doused with water. Since his flight hours still were not maxed out by the week’s end, C/1st Lt Gandy’s flight instructor let him complete a cross country flight, pushing him to a total of 9.5 flight hours.

Even though the CAP powered flight academy has concluded, C/1st Lt Gandy is not letting that stop him from continuing his passion for flying. He intends to further his flight training through CAP, whether it is by applying for the Cadet Wings program or by taking lessons from CAP’s flight instructors. He would like to get his private pilot’s license before college and is striving for a career as a helicopter pilot. His goal would be to fly rotary wing aircraft in the aerial photography field or to assist search and rescue missions from the air.

C/MSgt Cody Raulerson was drawn to aviation through both his love of aircraft and the high demand for commercial pilots. He saw the opportunity to strive for this career and identified each step he would need to earn his private pilot’s license. C/MSgt Raulerson prepared for flight lessons by attending the ground school offered at the Sugar Valley Composite Squadron, then started flying out of the Statesville Regional Airport in January 2019. Frequent winter storms and bad weather made his initial flight lessons unpredictable but, by the start of summer, he was consistently flying at least once per week. When his flight instructor cleared him to solo, there was naturally a bit of nervousness. “Right as I began checking all my instruments and I was at the start of runway 28, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it. But then I simply thought, ‘I have been trained for this, and as long as I stick to exactly the way my flight instructor has trained me, I can do this.’” He confidently flew the Statesville’s airport traffic pattern with ease and even returned the next day for further solo practice.

Since then C/MSgt Raulerson has moved on to the next steps towards his piolt's license. He has continued to fly solos around his airport and is on track for more flight training in the upcoming weeks. He will be practicing instrument reading and night flying in preparation for his cross country flight. After he earns his license, C/MSgt Raulerson intends to get an instrument rating and begin his career as a pilot. He wants to fly heavyweight C-17’s for the U.S. Air Force, enabling him to quickly gain flight hours and experience piloting multi-engine aircraft. After his service time is finished, he plans to transition to flying commercial jets for the international airlines.

C/2d Lt Sarah Haynes knew she wanted to be a pilot after her first flight in a small aircraft. Since then, she has been accumulating her flights hour through a blend of CAP and private resources. Her flight instructor, Lt Col William Fountain, is a CAP mission pilot who served as both a Vietnam fighter pilot and a U.S. Air Force CFII, while her flight training is in a private aircraft. The morning of her first solo, her airport was crowded with traffic. “Several airplanes were practicing touch and go’s while four other aircraft waited at the runway. I was in line to take off behind a Leer jet. It’s turbo engines kicked up enough dust that I could clearly see the wake turbulence swirling off its wingtips.” After her solo, C/2d Lt Haynes began flying 3-4 days each week on cross country or night flying, doubling her flight hours within a month.

With a current total of 42.5 flight hours, C/2d Lt Haynes is only a night cross country flight, check ride, and FAA test away from her private pilot’s license. She is planning her longest solo cross country flight to date, with landings at Statesville Regional Airport, Asheboro Regional Airport, and Raleigh Executive Jetport, a flight of approximately 180 nautical miles. After she gets her pilot’s license, she intends to obtain her instrument rating and start aerobatic flight training. Her ultimate goal is to be an F-35 fighter pilot, flying the U.S. Air Force’s top fighter jets.

No matter the type of aircraft they want to fly, all three emerging cadet pilots would like to encourage everyone with a love for aviation to pursue their passion. “Dream big, aim high,” C/1st Lt Gandy says to cadets looking to gain flight experience. “If your goal is to fly, apply for the flight academy, try to get flight instruction, and just get started on it to see where it goes.” For those who are already anticipating their first solo, C/MSgt Raulerson advises that “you have to trust yourself. As long as you can do that, you can do what you need to do.” Finally, no matter what stage of flight training you are at, C/2d Lt Haynes emphasizes the importance of acting on your ambitions. “If you really want to fly, you can. There are so many options available, whether it’s through CAP, private, or scholarships. All you have to do is set your vision, plan your steps, keep working towards it, and don’t ever let anyone tell you to lower your goals.”