By Christian P. Hodge, HQ AFJROTC Public Affairs
/ Published January 26, 2021
University of Delaware Air Force ROTC Detachment 128’s Cadet 4th Class Cynthia Rivera participated in the Flight Academy Scholarship Program at Liberty University in 2018 as a high school junior. Currently a freshman at Delaware State University, she said though the Flight Academy made her step outside of her comfort zone it also prepared her to seek challenges and aim for excellence. (courtesy photo)
Former Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet Maria Hall, TX-20063, stands in front of a vintage aircraft at the Purdue University Airport as part of the college’s 2018 Flight Academy class. She currently attends Texas A&M University as a sophomore engineering major and contracted Air Force ROTC cadet at Detachment 805. She said the Flight Academy has allowed her to continue to fly and pursue an instrument rating. (courtesy photo)
Headquarters Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (HQ AFJROTC) has released the names of cadets who received a scholarship to attend an accredited private pilot license training program for the summer of 2021 at aviation universities across the nation.
In the face of the COVID-19 threat more than 1,340 cadets from units around the world applied for one of 230 scholarships that are valued at approximately $22,500. The scholarship covers transportation, room and board, academics and flight hours required to potentially earn a private pilot license. The 2020 Flight Academy was cancelled because of the pandemic.
The Flight Academy Scholarship Program is a U.S. Air Force-level initiative in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address a national military and civilian pilot shortage. Moreover, U.S. Air Force and civilian aviation industry female pilot representation is only approximately 5-6%, and minority representation is only approximately 10-12%.
Conversely, about half of AFJROTC’s 875 programs are in socioeconomic challenged areas such as inner-city or rural, and 43% of cadets are female and 57% are minority. The Flight Academy supports the Air Force Chief of Staff’s diversity and inclusion efforts by virtue of AFJROTC’s inherent diversity.
Furthermore, the Flight Academy sincerely challenges these young, distinct leaders while simultaneously having an extraordinarily positive impact on participants.
“My experience with the Flight Academy was absolutely great! I overcame my fear of small aircraft, and now I like flying,” said Cadet 4th Class Cynthia Rivera, University of Delaware AFROTC Detachment 128, current freshman at Delaware State University and former AFJROTC cadet/Flight Academy graduate. “I had a fun time although it did make me step outside my comfort zone and put me in a stressful environment, but it did teach me time management and to mentally prepare myself for challenges. Now I seek challenges and strive to become better.”
The Flight Academy allows aspiring young aviators to earn their private pilot’s certification, at no cost, during a demanding eight-week summer course at partner universities. Those who participate in the program will earn a college transcript but do not incur a military commitment to the Air Force or other branch of service, nor does completing the program guarantee acceptance into one of the military’s commissioning programs.
However, the Flight Academy does reinforce the core teachings of AFJROTC -- developing citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community, while instilling values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.
“The reason why I joined AFJROTC comes down to three things: passion, leadership, and challenge,” said Rivera. “I find myself constantly seeking ways to challenge myself and aim for excellence. If I fail, I learn from my mistakes and attempt to become better than I was before.”
There are more than 120,000 high school students enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC at almost 875 high schools in the U.S and overseas. The Flight Academy is for those who truly and literally want to soar.
“AFJROTC and the Flight Academy have prepared me in many ways to face the leadership challenges and opportunities presented in the Air Force,” said AFROTC Cadet 3rd Class Maria Hall, AFROTC Detachment 805, current sophomore at Texas A&M and former AFJROTC cadet/Flight Academy graduate. “Specifically, the flying skills developed at the Flight Academy have enabled me to continue to fly on my own, pursue my instrument rating, and be more competitive for an Air Force pilot slot.”
Better time management, effective communication and working well under pressure are all skills that Hall said she learned and honed at the Flight Academy.
“AFJROTC and the Flight Academy further allowed me to expand on these skills and further work on my peer leadership. I learned how to manage large projects, best work with other people’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to lead effectively,” Hall said. “Moreover, I learned about the Air Force’s values, customs, and courtesies.”
For more information on AFJROTC and the Flight Academy go to https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/holm-center/afjrotc.