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Tahoe-Truckee Cadet Reaches The Skies

Tahoe-Truckee Cadet Reaches the Skies

My name is Cadet Maj. Justin Hoekman of the Tahoe-Truckee Composite Squadron. I have been in the Civil Air Patrol for 5 years this August and can proudly say that this program afforded me unparalleled experience and has introduced me to some of the most outstanding people this nation has to offer. I joined at 14 when I saw Cadets directing traffic for our Truckee airshow. I was attracted to the military uniform, the physical challenge, and the possibility of meeting people who thought like me. I ended up getting something far different. I have received world-class training in leadership, met the most diverse group of individuals and faced the challenge of challenging others to achieve their goals. I strongly believe that no other youth group can even come close to the experience CAP can offer. The only thing I found that limits a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol is their own efforts. CAP is truly a program in which you get out of it what you put into it. My first few years in CAP I primarily just focused on my squadron and myself. It resulted in me only experiencing squadron activities and not growing as an individual. I then shifted my focus on wing, regional and national activities. As soon as I did this, CAP changed nearly overnight. The program went from cadets meeting in a snowed-in squadron building to a nation of truly impressive young cadets leading today in order to change tomorrow. 

I am now near the completion of my CAP cadet career. I am excited to move forward and go on to accomplish something new. I will be going for my Spaatz Award this month and can say that I have done everything I have wanted to in the Civil Air Patrol. The pinnacle of my cadet career was this past June where I spent an entire month on a Civil Air Patrol Scholarship finishing my private pilot's license. "What an awesome experience!" is the best way to sum up the Advanced Flight Training Academy in Texas. This activity was hands-down the best experience I have ever had in the Civil Air Patrol and so far, the best experience I have had in my life. I can proudly say I am now a pilot and I am proud of my fellow pilots who graduated from this intensive training activity. 

During the Academy, we spent 30 days flying. Here every Cadet logged over 40 hours of flight time, over 100 take-offs and landings and hours of ground school. This is an intensive undergraduate pilot program that takes a tremendous amount of work to succeed. This program was the most difficult thing I have done in the Civil Air Patrol, other than trying to get cadets to promote at my squadron. I owe my success to my two instructors, Lt. Col. Brian "Jumper" Childs and Capt. Bruce "Jester" Stone. These two men are of the highest order, not only in their profession but in the way they live their lives and support others. Jumper and Jester, in our month in Texas, you made a tremendous impact on my life and I thank you for your time and support in this large goal. 

For any CAP cadet who wants to be a part of this activity, it is surprisingly simple to attend. The two basic requirements are: 1) pass the FAA private pilot exam and 2) to have soloed. Realistically, there is more to this than just the two requirements. This is a competitive program. The ideal applicant is an active CAP cadet and an active student. By active I mean excelling: promoting actively in the Cadet Program, volunteering to staff activities, doing well in school and being able to prove your commitment to aviation. 

How did I achieve these requirements? I studied for my written exam independently, soloed at a CAP Flight Academy last year, challenges myself in academics, worked at my local airport, and flew whenever I was given the chance. I applied for the flight scholarship with 20 hours logged in a Cessna 172 (one-hour solo), 19 hours in a glider, above a 3.5 GPA, Cadet Major, and have held several staff positions in my squadron, also served as the Cadet Advisory Council Nevada Chair, I receive the Nevada Wing Best Cadet Speaker Award, Wing Commander's Commendation, five community service awards and have consistently participated in many other activities in the Civil Air Patrol over the years. Even with these achievements, I was one of the last people to be accepted, meaning I barely got in. 

For the cadets who are NCOs, don't be discouraged even if you have not yet achieved your Mitchell Award - apply anyway. There are young men and women who range from Technical Sergeant to Chiefs who have achieved what less than one percent of the population achieve... attaining their private pilot certificate. 

These past five years have been phenomenal and I believe they laid a firm foundation for a successful future. I strongly recommend this activity to anyone whose dream is to become an aviator. This program will not disappoint. Here you will receive unparalleled training provided by world-class instructors and meet the finest cadets the Civil Air Patrol has to offer. Thank you to my instructors, Nevada WIng, Tahoe-Truckee Composite Squadron, and my family for your continuous support in helping me reach the skies!

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