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Teenagers Earn Their Wings in Lebanon County - abc27 WHTM

Teenagers Earn Their Wings in Lebanon County

Teenagers Earn Their Wings in Lebanon County

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At Farmer's Pride Airport in Fredericksburg, it was a summer school like none other. Nine days of learning about and flying glider planes. A unique chance for 16 Civil Air Patrol cadets to expand their abilities in aeronautics and in life.


James Linker, Director, Civil Air Patrol Northeast Region,said the participants learn critical thinking skills that carry over into any walk of life.


"Primarily, it's an aviation exercise," said Linker, "but it's a great skill-building exercise too."


Before, during and after every flight, team work and safety are runway priorities.


"You definitely can't goof around," said 15-year-old Ceara Berry, of Butler, Pa. "I mean, there are planes everywhere an you have to know what your job is and what you're doing at all times."


On average, each cadet flies 20 sorties during the encampment, with Civil Air Patrol instructors observing and teaching.


"It's definitely really, really exciting flying a glider plane," said Berry. "It's quiet. You can see the whole area. All the farms."


Cadet Duncan Campbell of Frederick, Maryland agrees. "It's awesome," he said, moments before his next practice flight. "There's nothing better than flying. Especially when you're flying a glider."


The Civil Air Patrol's glider flight academy is one of only a few youth programs that allow pilots-in-training to take their first flight at 14 years old, something their peers can only dream about. Some earned their solo flight wings during the training. All plan careers in civilian and/or military aeronautical fields.


"When they leave this academy, they're very focused and they're very proud," said academy director Paul Finestone. "And they're very confident that they've achieved something that very few people have an opportunity to do."


At 70 years old, the Civil Air Patrol program reflects a history of helping others, involved with numerous search and rescue missions, drug interdiction campaigns and Homeland Security duties.

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