Two NA students selected to attend prestigious JROTC Flight Academy
In its second year of operation, the U.S. Air Force JROTC Flight Academy again chose multiple cadets from North Allegheny Senior High School to attend its highly selective nine-week immersive flight school.
North Allegheny senior Aditi Edlabadkar and junior Stefan Kidd are two of only 12 students selected on the east coast and 250 students from across the country to attend the flight school this summer. Last year, three NA students were selected from more than 800 applicants to fill 120 openings.
The course, which will take place at one of seven universities nationwide, includes ground school and 60 hours of flight instruction. Edlabadkar and Kidd will earn college credits and return home as fully certified private pilots. The course is valued at $22,000 per student but Edlabadkar and Kidd will attend for free.
“I was so excited to find out I’d been accepted. I kept jumping up and down,” said Edlabadkar, 17, of Marshall.
“My mom got the email saying I’d been accepted. She showed up at Sir Pizza, where I work, with a balloon,” said Kidd, 17, of McCandless. “I was really excited. And shocked.”
Cadets enrolled in good standing in the Air Force JROTC programs at their high schools, and who have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average were eligible to apply. Completion of an extensive application and Air Force-designed aptitude test, instructor and school endorsements, a fitness exam and other factors were required.
“I’m very excited they were selected, but not surprised,” said Maj. Scott Kolar, who leads the AFJROTC program at North Allegheny. “The North Allegheny administration and teachers do a better job than anyone in preparing these kids for the 21st century. That sets our students apart and puts them at the top of the heap. It’s why they get selected for all these prestigious programs.”
Kidd, who was just appointed Cadet Captain of Operations in the JROTC program at NA, hopes to attend the Air Force Academy after he graduates from high school in 2020. His ultimate goal is to become a fighter pilot.
“Attending the flight academy this summer will be the first step in accomplishing that goal,” he said.
Edlabadkar, who previously received a full Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship, plans to serve the country as a naval officer.
“I look forward to training as a midshipman while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering,” she said.
She chuckled about earning her pilot’s license this summer.
“I predict I’ll earn my pilot’s license even before I get my driver’s license,” she said, explaining that she has only been able to practice driving for two hours since she got her learner’s permit last year.
The Air Force Flight Academy program is a collaborative effort between the aerospace industry and the Air Force to address a national pilot shortage. It is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers.
Currently, Boeing predicts an annual need to hire 6,000 civilian pilots a year for the next 20 years. Military needs quickly push that number over 8,000. According to industry and military leadership, the nation is facing a pilot shortage crisis.