Opportunities in Aviation

This past year and a half has been filled with numerous opportunities and adventures accompanied by the rigorous demands of living the life of a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. With freshman year behind me, I am well on my way to pursuing my dream of becoming an officer and pilot in the United States Air Force.

Over this past summer I achieved one of my childhood dreams. In June, I drove down to Edwards AFB in southern California and received an incentive ride in an F-16 Viper. The flight consisted of taking off at full afterburners, performing a two-ship supersonic flight, achieving max Gs (9Gs) for 15 seconds, and accomplishing aerial maneuvers such as barrel-rolls, loops, and high G turns. It has always been one of my childhood dreams to fly in the same fighter jet that my father flew and needless to say actually flying in one solidified my decision to pursue it as a career.

July was an adventure in itself, spent mostly in the Colorado Rocky Mountains going through a program called Combat Survival Training (CST). During CST Air Force SERE (Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion) Instructors trained cadets how to survive in any environment if our aircraft was ever shot down. The three phases of the program consisted of phase one- classroom learning about how to find food, water and shelter, phase two- applying what we learned in the classroom to the outdoors, and phase three- evading from aggressor forces and being rescued. The experience showed me the risk involved with becoming a military pilot, as well as the proper way to take action if a situation does arise someday.

My love and knowledge in aviation has carried on with me through the Academy and has allowed me to become a cadet aviation soaring instructor. Essentially the soaring program at the Academy is a program that presents cadets with the opportunity to learn to fly and solo a TG-10B glider. Based on their flying performance in the glider and after being interviewed by a selection board cadets may be chosen to go on and become soaring instructor pilots, which allows them to teach others how to operate and fly gliders. It is one of the best programs the Academy has to offer and the benefit of wearing a flight suit to classes every other day to be followed by going down to the airfield isn’t a bad deal either.

This past week I traveled to Washington DC and witness the inauguration of our 44th President and represent the Academy at a conference that consisted of 5,000 university students from all over the world. We were privileged to participate in many different lectures, express and debate our opinions on current policy topics and problems in the economy, as well as hear Al Gore, Colin Powell speak. The conference was wrapped up with attending the inauguration and an inaugural ball being hosted at the Air and Space Museum.

Looking back over the years I realize how blessed I have been in my love and pursuit of aviation. I have wanted to fly since I was a child, but it was the LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Foundation that enabled me to begin chasing my dreams and opened up a window of opportunity for me. As a cadet at the Academy I am thankful for the privilege to be taking the same steps in my aviation career as LeRoy Homer took in his. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at the memorial wall which his name resides on and am reminded of the sacrifices that some gave for this country. The Homer Foundation enables the hopes and dreams of today’s youth and provides a bright future for the aviation of tomorrow.

Courtney Vidt

Past scholarship recipient

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