A Young Eagle at the Air Force Academy

By Cadet First Class Jordan T. Stoiber

My interest in aviation began while growing up in Dayton, Ohio, the true birthplace of aviation. I am extremely lucky to have had the National Museum of the United States Air Force, occasional summer air shows, and a rich aviation history so close to where I grew up. These items, along with all of the people who have helped me along the way, sent me down the path I am on now.

I had always been around aviation but had never actually been able to control an aircraft or sit in a cockpit before. A friend put me in contact with Richard Alkire, EAA 18347, who eventually gave me an initial flight through EAA’s Young Eagles program. I recall those first few seconds when the wheels left the ground, which if I remember correctly was a grass runway, in his aircraft and not being able to help but smile.

I had fallen in love with aviation. There was nothing else I wanted to do with my future but fly.

This loving feeling combined with a desire to serve my country grew my interest in military aviation, and what better place to go to eventually become a military pilot than at the United States Air Force Academy. Throughout high school, I tailored my academic schedules to fulfill what they desired in applicants and heavily invested my time and effort into clubs and sports to showcase to the Academy that I am capable of simultaneously balancing many aspects of life. I applied to the Coast Guard, Naval, and Air Force academies my senior year in high school knowing that all three branches provided an opportunity to fly.

I was rejected by the Coast Guard and Naval academies and did not receive a direct appointment to the Air Force Academy. Instead, I was offered a preparatory school slot. Though this seems like a setback, I saw it as my golden ticket to accomplishing what I wanted out of life. I accepted that preparatory school slot within two hours of receiving the offer. Almost five years later to the day, I am about to graduate from this prestigious institution and only a few months away from starting Air Force pilot training. Each and every time I have met stark hardship along the way and wanted to quit, I have thought back to my 13-year-old self falling in love with aviation and have upheld my promise to him that I will do what it takes to accomplish his dream.

I believe it to be imperative that we invest in programs like Young Eagles as it is essential to maintaining the American way of life we have all come to know and love. It inspires future generations of airline, first-responder, and military pilots, etc., who are lifelines for our economy, domestic stability, and common defense. I am eternally grateful for what EAA has done for me and will continue to do for the future of aviation and our country. 

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