My First Flight

Describe an important experience in your life.

"Northwest, this is La Crosse Tower. Hold-short runway three-one for Cessna on final."

Knowing that I had personally delayed a plane full of commercial passengers on my sixteenth birthday was not what I had in mind for my first solo flight. Regardless, the hold-short command, a matter of little importance to the Northwest pilot and tower operator, made it impossible to ignore the reality of my success.

Unlike the fortuitous Peter Pan, who needs only to "think of a wonderful thought," it did not take me long to reach the conclusion that more than a bit of pixie dust would be required to make my young aviation dreams come true. My quest soon brought me to Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the official volunteer auxiliary of the United States Air Force, which flies more search and rescue missions than any other organization. I joined CAP as a cadet almost four years ago, attained the Cadet Officer rank of Captain (the Amelia Earhart Award), participated in numerous national Cadet activities, and served in state and national Cadet leadership positions. Never did I abandon my dream of flying, however, and it was through CAP flight training that I found the key to my box of pixie dust.

Before I was allowed anywhere near a...

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