ROTC leads Bird to SOAR
Mechanical engineering major Andrew Bird ’21 is spending his summer getting a feel for genuine Air Force flying without ever starting up an engine. He is one of only 20 cadets selected for the Intro to Soaring (SOAR) program at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. This 15-day exercise allows Bird to learn flight fundamentals using non-powered gliders that contain all the instruments you’d expect to find in a jet. SOAR cadets learn everything from doing a complete check of their plane on the ground to getting one in the air and possibly doing a solo flight in a glider.
Bird also earned a highly selective You Can Fly scholarship to work at JW Aviation in Bolingbrook, Ill., which he is using towards his personal pilot’s license. You Can Fly is designed to help get AFROTC cadets into the air as early as possible in their careers, pairing them with certified local flight instructors so they have practice before getting into more complex military flight maneuvers later in their training.
Aul explained that consistent preparation is a key component of You Can Fly. “Cadets must continue to fly on this scholarship and must fly regularly without excessive time periods between training events—four weeks is considered excessive,” he said.