C/1st Lt. Jeffrey Rupp is flying high.
As a member of the Civil Air Patrol, which was first established during WWII in 1941, Rupp, 18, was recently named the Honor Cadet for the Flight Academy in Scotia, N.Y. And if such was not commendable enough, he was entrusted with his first solo flight of an aircraft during the final days of the academy, which earned him his wings to wear on his uniform.
The Flight Academy is a weeklong, high-intensity flight training program which accepts only four cadets from throughout the state every year to train. Much like he expected, Rupp's week began with a bang, and didn't slow down until it was over.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
"Our schedule consisted of 20 hours of ground school, where you learn all the rules of flight," said Rupp. "Just like how there's (driver's ed) when you learn to drive a car, there are plenty more FAA rules when flying."
Once Rupp finished with ground school, the flying portion of the academy began.
"The first day we flew and did some very basic stuff, but my first day wasn't so exciting because I became ill on both flights," said Rupp. "Then throughout the week, we did more maneuvers, different stalls, takeoffs and landings, and then by the end of the week, we did touch-and-gos, which means you take off, fly the pattern around the airport, land very quickly without stopping, then take off again."
Then, finally, on Friday, Rupp was able to fly completely solo for his first time.
"It was amazing, but even better because we were able to set a record this year," said Rupp. "Since the first encampment, there has never been an occasion where all of the cadets at the academy were able to (fly) solo - but this year we did just that."
In order to qualify for a solo flight, cadets must first complete a pre-solo written test, which is an 85-question exam which must be finished before Wednesday of Flight Academy. This year's Flight Academy is the first occasion where all four cadets present finished the exam with high enough marking to earn a solo flight.
Although Rupp was nervous, his first solo flight, which took place in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, was a success. According to him, the most difficult part of the flight was effectively taking orders from the airport tower.
"They gave you all of your flight directions," said Rupp. "You had to remember all the directions, and then you had to relay them back to the tower before you could make your next move, whether it was taxiing or flying."
At the conclusion of the week on Saturday, the graduation ceremony for the academy took place. It was at graduation that Rupp was informed he had been selected as Honor Cadet for the Flight Academy.
"At the ceremony, I was given my wings for my first solo flight, and I was informed that I was Honor Cadet," said Rupp. "There was an (Air National Guard) Major General present who served as the guest speaker, and he presented me with the honor."
Going forward, Rupp will be attending Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, where he will enroll in ROTC, before eventually joining the Army. Through the CAP, Rupp was able to secure scholarships which will help him pay for his education.
His superiors in the CAP, including Capt. Todd Hanson and Maj. Ellen Maternowski, are very proud of his hard work and dedication.
"He's worked very hard to get where he is in CAP and life in general, " said Hanson. "He was a great choice for Honor Cadet. He's worked very hard and deserves that honor. As far as his solo flight, we're really happy he was able to do that - especially at CAP encampment, which makes it extra special."
Hanson said that CAP has opened opened doors of opportunity for many people in the past, and he is glad to see that Rupp was able to accomplish what he wanted as a member.
CAP meets at the Jamestown Airport every Thursday from 6-9 p.m. Anyone interested in joining CAP, who is over the age of 12, may speak with Maternowski in person when CAP meets, or may call 397-3864 for more information. Additionally, interested parties may visit the CAP website at www.nywg.cap.gov.