The pilots of AFJROTC

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Hiral Choudhary

Hiral Choudhary (Corps Commander of AFJROTC) next to the Cessna 172’s, the aircraft she flew.

Priyal Choudhary, Editor-in-Chief

Maintaining difficult high school courses and extracurriculars are hard. Adding “learning how to fly a plane” to the list seems impossible right? WRONG, these high-schoolers from Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) have accomplished just that. 

From the formidable year of 2021-2022, two juniors, Hiral Choudhary and William Torres, earned the Chief of Staff scholarship. This scholarship guaranteed these overachievers a chance to earn a pilot’s certificate over the course of 8 weeks during the summer.

We will also see the perspective of a sophomore, Graham LaBass, who is in AFJROTC is also learning to fly high in the sky, from a non-profit Air Force organization, Civil Air Patrol. These kids are inspirations, proving AFJROTC can make dreams come true, and achieving the seemingly impossible. 

Hiral Choudhary, now a senior and the Corps Commander of ROTC, shares her journey gaining her private pilots certificate. This surreal experience comes with a full scholarship and a chance to get a pilot’s license. Choudhary went to Purdue University in Indiana, and learned to fly Cessna 172’s. 

Once asked about how this program had changed her life, Choudhary responds with, “The 8 weeks I spent there felt like a whole lifetime, but not enough,” she continues with, “and flying everyday, getting in the plane, getting in the sky, everyday a new destination and new adventure, coming back home. This summer was filled with so much excitement and a new adventure. I definitely want to be a pilot after this.” 

Graham LaBass, now a sophomore and Aero Club Commander of ROTC shares his experience flying. LaBass states, “The flying process is expensive, and it’s complicated, but it is unlike anything I have ever done.” LaBass flies Cessna 182’s at the Camarillo Airport through Civil Air Patrol. 

His first flight was his 13th birthday and that was the moment when he realized he wanted to be a pilot. His second flight was with the Civil Air Patrol when he was 14, and he will have his license by his senior year. Once asked how it feels to fly, LaBass responds with, “Being able to fly a plane is…unreal, you can’t describe it. It’s like the feeling of being set free…”

As you can see, these pilots of Air Force Junior ROTC are something to behold. They are inspirations and ambitious workers. AFJROTC not only has flying opportunities, but more like: a Color guard team, a new Astronomy club, an Aero Club, a Raider team, a Shooting club and so much more. AFJROTC is a place of talent, and these pilots prove it.