SHAWNEE, OK -- Cadets at the Civil Air Patrol's National Flight Academy - including a Sand Springs student - had a surprise assignment Monday night when inclement weather forced the student pilots to taxi 12 planes into a hanger with only a few inches of clearance between the aircraft.
The delicate operation took the cadets 30 minutes to complete.
Twenty cadets, from Oklahoma and eight other states are learning the joys of flight at the southwest regional academy. Ryan Herrington of Sand Springs, Adison Elliott and Nate Oglespy of Oklahoma City; Whitney Heer of Shawnee; Jeffrey Sandwell of New Castle, and Stephen Valenzeula of Depew are the Oklahoma cadets.
Monday began the students' first day of flight in the Shawnee academy.
One young cadet, Second Lieutenant Christian Nelson, wrote about his experience at the academy:
"Today was our first day of flying. All of us got cracking during breakfast, because the faster we were done with the meal, the sooner we would be on the flight line," Nelson wrote.
"Under their instructor pilots' supervision, students pre-flighted their aircraft, a skill they had learned on the previous day, and one by one the instructor pilots taxied to the runway and took off. Upon their return from their flights, the cadets emerged from their planes with revealing expressions: sometimes nervous, but always definitely excited. They had done very well."
The cadets also attend ground school to learn the fundamentals of aviation and theory of flight.
"Many of these young persons aspire to a career in the military, but some will go into private aviation or even space exploration," said Major Arthur E. Woodgate, public affairs director for the CAP Southwest Region. "It is of such simple building blocks that great dreams are built."