Youth cadets from all across the country descended upon Mankato and New Ulm this week to learn to fly.
The Mankato and New Ulm Airports are hosting the Civil Air Patrol for a National and Regional Cadet Flight Academy. Twelve cadets are learning glider flight in New Ulm .while the other twelve are focusing on powered flight in Mankato.
"Each instructor flies with two cadets for the entire week and the majority, I'd say 80 to 90% of them will solo by the end of the week. It's very intense training, if they're not flying, they're in ground school so they do a ground school session and a flight school session in the morning and then do another one in the afternoon," Chief Flight Instructor for the North Central Region Joint Flight Academy JoEllen Peters said.
"The first time it was exhilarating because it's an aircraft. I knew what to do but I was just anxious because it's the first time I could do it by myself but at the same time I was excited to go and actually do it, actually experience it by myself, test out my knowledge and get to my solo wings," cadet Marcello Gonzalez said.
"Soloing an airplane is fun and that's why they're doing it. Flying and teaching and instructing is fun and that's why they do it. So it takes a lot of dedicated people to pull an event off like this. We've done it since the late 60's. A lot of the instructors are here year after year because it's so much fun, it's rewarding it's so rewarding when you can get out of the airplane and the student can solo by themselves," Peters added.
Many go on to become commercial airline pilots, find careers in the aerospace industry or the military.
"The discipline that we have that transfers over and our expectations here transfers over not just in the military but anywhere," cadet Elsie Doble said.
"I really want to be in aeronautical engineer and I personally feel to be like kind of engineer you really need to know your aircraft, including how to fly it. So this will be just the first step after this I want to build on that knowledge and also build on my mechanic's knowledge and put it all together into my final career," Gonzalez added.
Cadets must be 16-years-old to apply for powered flight and 14 for gliders. Graduation is Saturday morning at Gustavus Campus where Solo Wings will be presented with certificates of participation for all.

--KEYC News 12