Three local teenagers earned their certification to fly gliders solo during the summertime annual Texas Wing Glider Academy held at the Soaring Club of Houston’s facility near Waller in July. Cadets Brandon Cambio, Christopher Williams and Clay Yoder, all from Kingwood, received their solo certification, which requires approximately 10 hours of glider flying. The certification process takes two summers to complete; the first summer is for qualifying, then the cadets are tested and actually begin flying solo during the second summer. “They want to make absolutely sure that everyone is safe and everyone is happy,” said Capt. Glenn Shellhouse. To become airborne, the gliders are towed by an airplane into the sky. Once the glider reaches the optimal level of energy, it is released from the airplane. Pilots of the gliders must manage the energy of the glider to control it and keep it in the air. “It’s essentially an airplane without an engine,” said Shellhouse. “It’s a remarkable thing to watch.” Cadets from the local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) squadron joined with cadets from around Texas at the summer academy to learn how to fly the gliders and learn the rigorous safety standards. CAP is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. In addition to flight training, CAP also emphasizes leadership skills and emergency services training. Cadets are 12-18 years old. “It’s really neat to watch these kids grow right before our eyes,” said CAP Capt. Darrell Roquemore, academy registrar. “Some of these cadets have never been off the ground and aren’t sure what to expect. A few of them even get sick their first time in the cockpit.” “Once the cadets get into the daily routine of flying, ground team work and studying, it’s like they’ve been doing this all of their lives,” added Roquemore. “This experience can really motivate these youngsters to attempt things they never would have tried before. Flying gliders is not something that most kids get the chance to do.” According to Shellhouse, some cadets are dedicated to becoming military pilots, whereas others just want to have a “huge adventure.” Approximately 10 percent of cadets go on to pursue a military career, while the others use the skills they learned at the academy in their daily lives, Shellhouse said. The achievement also entitles the cadets to wear silver solo qualification wings on their U.S. Air Force style uniforms and flight suits. For more information, visit Photos (from top to bottom): Cadet Christopher Williams (right) gives his undivided attention to Maj. Paul Chapman (left) as they complete a pre-flight briefing prior to being towed aloft. Williams is a freshman at Kingwood Park High School. Cadet Clay Yoder (front seat) prepares to exit the glider and receive a thorough debriefing from CAP flight examiner Lt. Col. Roland Dewing (back seat). Yoder is a junior at Kingwood High School. Cadet Brandon Cambio, a freshman at Kingwood High School, attached a tow cable to a glider as it prepares to take-off.

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