Battle Ground Air Force JROTC students awarded scholarship

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Sebastian Rubino /

Three students from Battleground High School have been awarded the Air Force Chief of Staff Flight Academy’s Private Pilot Scholarship after completing an eight-week summer course.

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The winners are Brock Kirby and Wyatt Moody in the 2021 class and Nathaniel Davis in the 2022 class.

A great deal of design and training is selected for the scholarship, with recipients competing against 1,200 candidates.

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said retired Lt. Col. Andy Woodrow, who is the chief space science instructor at Battleground High School. “Then they have to take a fitness test measured by Air Force standards. The third thing is my endorsement of saying ‘You’re a good student, focus on this very attractive opportunity, and we’ll put you in the place’.”

Woodrow said all candidates must be part of the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program at their high school. Each scholarship is worth $24,000 and can be used in one of 24 colleges that have an aviation program. Options include the University of Maryland, Purdue University, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

This past summer, Kirby stayed at Liberty University, where she earned her pilot’s license after spending more than 45 hours plus ground school, while battling an August thunderstorm along the way. Moody attended Indiana Wesleyan University and was the first of 16 students in his group to complete the study and flight examination. As for Davis, he attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where he developed lifelong friendships on the program.

Woodrow said each university had 15 to 20 students who lived in college for about eight weeks. During the experiment, their full-time job was to study and fly, sometimes an average of seven days a week. Those who completed the course obtained their pilot’s license in part because of the intense curriculum.

A typical private pilot certificate in the United States typically requires 70 to 80 flying hours, but students in the eight-week scholarship program earned their licenses in about half the time.

“All[students]do every day from sunset to sunset studying flight,” Woodrow said. “Unlike someone who gets a pilot’s license — like you or I’m going after work or on the weekend where we pick up as much as we can when we can — they spend 40 hours a week or more in classes or flying. Between the simulation time and the actual flight time, They really are honing their skills to get a pilot certification faster than the average person.”

Woodrow said that although the students spent most of the summer flying and in class, the end result of getting a license would open many doors for them.

He added that students who attend the program are not required to serve in the US Air Force. Woodrow said the program intends to increase the number of pilots in the country because many of them have outlived their careers or are retiring. The combination of retirees and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive drop in the number of pilots in the country.

“In the next 12 months, we’ll find out if the reward has been reached, and see how many students come out and say they’re joining the Air Force or commercial airlines,” Woodrow said.

Woodrow said the program is designed to select students who have an interest in a career in aviation. The program exposes them to aviation operations as well as programs and infrastructures in and around aviation.

“This is a huge opportunity for high school students and we are very proud of all the cadets who competed for this coveted scholarship,” Woodrow said. “While there is no obligation to join the Air Force or even become a full-time pilot after high school, this is the first step in discovering flight and may have a positive impact on the overall national crisis of pilot shortages in both the military and civilian aviation.”

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