While the majority of Canadian teens spent July and August camping, working part or full time, or hanging out with friends, a few local air cadets spent a good chunk of their summer at a higher altitude.
The Langley Air Cadet Squadron 746 Lightning Hawks include close to 60 cadets between the ages of 12 and 18, seven Canadian Forces officers, and a parent sponsoring committee.
The Hawks offer a training program centred around aviation, leadership, survival training, range, drill, and citizenship.
A handful of these Langley air cadets were chosen to attend national scholarship courses in fields such as airport operations, airport maintenance, gliding, and power. Out of approximately 900 youth who applied, just 60 were chosen for each course.
Warrant Officer second class Joshua Sollows, 18, completed a power pilot scholarship course in the Lower Mainland. The course was jammed into seven weeks of intensive training. Sollows walked away with his private pilot's licence.
"It was more challenging than difficult," Sollows said. "There was definitely a lot of work that we had to go through throughout the program. Normally, in civilian life, it takes one to two years to get your private pilot's licence, and we did it in under seven weeks."
Sgt. Michael Montano, 14, travelled to North Bay, Ont., where he took an advanced aviation technology course.
"I was with people from Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories. all across the country," Montano said. "It was pretty interesting to meet those people."
Part of the course had Montano sitting before a three-member selection panel, prior to leaving for North Bay.
All cadets applying for scholarship courses were interviewed by three people associated with the Air Cadet League, Montano's mom Judy said.
They answered questions on current events, government, politics, the course they were applying for, and the Air Cadet League. If their marks on this and their recommendations from the squadron, school marks, and essays were high enough, they earned entry into the course.
The pilot courses also required cadets to write written exams prior, Judy noted, and those tests were included in their selection criteria.
Fifteen-year-old Lucy Poirier finished her second summer on a national scholarship, and she complete a six-week program on aircraft maintenance, also in North Bay.
"It was a mix of classroom studies, everything behind the theory of mechanics to being in the hangar and working on the aircraft themselves, which was extremely exciting," Poirier said. "We toured Bombardier's hangar and looked at the aircraft they were manufacturing there."
Poirier said it was "one of the best experiences of my life."
"You have kids coming from all across Canada, and to be in a learning environment where every-
one has similar goals. those are the people who can really support you throughout what you're learning and that's really exciting."
Sixteen-year-old Flight Sgt. Santiago Ardila's summer was filled with flying and ground school in Comox.
Through six weeks, he and fellow cadets flew during the mornings, and studied in the afternoons, or vice versa to obtain their glider licences.
The 746 Lightning Hawks came back from training to a new home: Hangar 5 at Langley's airport. The local air cadets are very excited to finally have a permanent location.
The hangar will be home to training sessions on Monday and Thursday nights and, the Hawks are also renting classroms from the nearby Canadian Museum of Flight.
@ Copyright 2013