One New Albany High School senior will be one of 120 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets around the country to receive a pilot license by the end of the summer, thanks to a program designed to address a pilot shortage in military service and civilian life.
Maria Favela is currently attending an eight-week flight academy at Auburn University after receiving a $20,000 scholarship from AFJROTC headquarters, Maxwell Air Force Base. The scholarship pays for transportation, room and board, academic instruction and flight hours.
Favela said she took an examination to enter the flight academy during the school year and found out she’d been chosen in the spring.
“One hundred twenty cadets were selected, along with 30 alternates,” Favela said. “I was one of the 120 cadets.”
She said the course is very rigorous, but she has enjoyed being a part of the program.
“The private pilot’s license course is normally 16 weeks long and is meant to be a semester-long course in college,” Favela said. “Since the program we’re in is eight weeks long, we’re going through it a lot faster.”
Favela said they have three hours of flight time – an hour and a half in the morning and another hour and a half in the afternoon – and an hour and a half of classroom instruction every day.
“We fly in a Cessna 172 at the Auburn Regional Airport,” she said.
The program began May 29 and runs through July 29.
Favela said that, besides receiving a private pilot’s license, they should be receiving college credit because they are taking the course at a university. She also said that the Air Force said they would pay graduates to continue to fly with the Civil Air Service.
“I have really enjoyed being a part of the program,” she said. Experiencing flight first hand has been amazing. I love flying and learning how to control the aircraft is a great experience.”
She said she has thought about a career as a pilot as well.
Favela is the daughter of Juan and Jenny Favela.