"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

"Everything that concerns you"

The Eagle's Eye

Ready for takeoff

JROTC student Hector Hernandez earns pilot license over summer
Senior+Hector+Hernandez+pilots+a+single-engine+plane+as+part+of+his+8-week+summer+training+over+Shelbyville+Airport+in+Indiana.+
Hector Hernandez
Senior Hector Hernandez pilots a single-engine plane as part of his 8-week summer training over Shelbyville Airport in Indiana.

Soon after earning his driver’s license, Akins senior Hector Hernandez worked to earn a second license that would put him behind the steering wheel of an airplane.

Hernandez spent his summer from June 1 to July 28 in Indiana as a participant in the Air Force JROTC Flight Academy. This 8-week summer aviation training program is hosted at partnering universities nationwide. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a Private Pilot’s Certification and their single-engine pilot’s license.

 

Senior Hector Hernandez, on the left , strikes a pose with his fellow sa-dets behind thier pilot instructor with a plane.
Hector Hernandez

The Flight Academy program is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers. The scholarship-funded program is a collaborative effort between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to address a national pilot shortage. Currently, Boeing predicts an annual need to hire 6,000 civilian pilots a year for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, the military believes it needs to train 8,000 pilots for its operations.

“Students will need to expect an 8-10 hour work day where they will learn safety procedures, mechanics, and much more of flying a single-engine plane,” Lewis said. “So overall when you take a step back and look at the program you are tasking students with work that many adults won’t be able to complete. Not to mention the long grueling work hours that are spent on learning plane mechanics, math, and physics. Then there is the exciting yet nerve-racking process of flying a $300,000 – $500,000 single-engine airplane.”

Hernandez, who learned about the program through Akins JROTC program, said he was interested in the opportunity to earn a pilot license right away.

“I just thought it was so cool how they were going to let teenagers fly planes and get your license,” Hernandez said. “And apart from that it was a free opportunity. And it sounded really fun.”

Hernandez’s program was based at an airport in Marion, Indiana, but he also flew to a large airport in West Lafayette, Indiana in conjunction with Purdue University. Alongside other Air Force JROTC cadets from all over the country, Hernandez received hands-on training from flight instructors, facing new challenges as a beginner pilot.

“It was pretty challenging trying to balance flight training and all the ground training they have to do,” Hernandez said. “But apart from the challenge, it was just crazy, learning all this stuff that I never knew existed before.

A few weeks into the course, Hernandez said he started to get used to flying and landing a plane. It helped him gain confidence and become comfortable behind the controls of the plane.

“Yeah, we did that a lot. Actually, that’s one of the major parts of the training,” Hernandez said. “We did a lot of touch-and-goes (landings) just going around and landing a lot of times and the first time I went by myself, it was really scary. But just with all things you just got more comfortable in your own ability and your skills got easier.”

Being able to communicate with your cadets is key in gaining experience as a pilot. It also plays a vital role in beginning your journey as a pilot so they can help you if you need it.

“Well, there’s kind of like a pattern, where you have to relay information to who you’re talking to your tail number to identify yourself where you are and what you want to do,” Hernandez said. “And it’s just like, you just plug and play where you’re at. But when you’re talking to your co-pilot it’s more casual, you talk chat.”

Throughout the course, Hernandez flew one type of plane. The plane was a single engine one, the one that all starters use when training.

“As of right now, I’ve only flown single-engine land,”Hernandez said. “Airplanes is what I’m reading for right now. But you know, I’m going out there flying at the airport pretty often. So hopefully get ready to do some other stuff pretty soon.”

After completing his course on July 28th, Hernandez has plans to pursue his pilot training and passion even more.

“My next step for me would be to go to the Naval Academy to commission to fly for the Marine Corps,” Hernandez said. For the Navy, and that’s where I want to go. We’re actively working.”

Hernandez plans to continue to build up his pilot hours and his ratings in order to prepare himself for military aviation.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Eagle's Eye
$140
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Akins High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Alex Lindao, staff writer
  Grade: 12 Academy: New Tech Number of Years on Staff: 4 Title: Quote getter/Caption writer Why do you enjoy being on staff? I enjoy being able to work at my own pace What do you do for fun? Take long naps What are your hobbies? Hanging out with friends and buying stuff online Hopes & Dreams after high school? College Hidden Talent: I can sleep for 15+ hours straight  
Grade: 10th Academy: New Tech Number of Years on Staff: first year Title: (Staff Writer unless you are an editor) Why do you enjoy being on staff?  1 What do you do for fun? i play games What are your hobbies? i don't really know Hopes & Dreams after high school? i'm still deciding
Donate to The Eagle's Eye
$140
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Eagle's Eye Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *