Civil Air Patrol teens soar, earn aviation wings in Nacogdoches

Published: Jun. 6, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:58 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A new set of pilots are earning their wings and taking to the skies from right here in East Texas.

Over the weekend, 18 Civil Air Patrol cadets graduated from the Shirley Martin Powered Flight Academy at the A L Mangham Jr. Regional Airport in Nacogdoches.

“I feel amazing! said Gabriella Pfang.

The Civil Air Patrol hosts more than a dozen flight academies across the country, where cadets ages 14 to 21 receive around 10 hours of instruction and training in airplanes, gliders, and some achieve their first solo flight.

“I can’t believe I’ve soloed,” Pfang said. “It’s been a difficult week. It’s been a lot of pressure to fly solo. There’s a lot to learn every flight. But it was an amazing learning experience. I learned about myself. I met some amazing people, and I think it’ll be an experience I’ll never forget.”

Meet HRH, which is 17-year-old Cadet 1st Lieutenant Gabriella Pfang’s call sign.

“I’m from England, and so I’ve been asked at least 10 times where I’m from this week,” she said. “So, I got HRH, Her Royal Highness.”

This is Screech, the call sign for 16-year-old Cadet 1st Lieutenant David Cavazos II from Texas.

“There’s lots of flying,” Cavazos said. “There’s lots of going with your instructor learning all about aviation and them teaching you everything that they possibly can getting you ready to solo and getting you ready to fly.”

Cavasos explained how he earned his call sign.

“So I come in, and the nose wheel hits first, and you just hear this giant screech across the entire runway, and I did that a couple of times. That’s how I got my call sign,” he explained.

“The job of Civil Air Patrol, I call it, ‘‘Air Force Academy Light,” said Lieutenant Colonel David Cavazos. “It’s basically a leadership laboratory. Leaders aren’t born. They’re made. It gives them opportunities to try leadership principles but also to fail in a safe environment. They go through; they stumble. They sit down. We talk about what worked what didn’t. Let’s evaluate that. How can we do that better? It’s the best group of students I ever taught. They have a burning desire to want to be here and great attitudes going forth and great mindset they approach it with.”

To learn more about the Civil Air Patrol, click here.

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