Taking flight

Cadet Amya B. Clark, a sophomore and second-year Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) cadet at West Mecklenburg High, has received a scholarship to a pilot training program. She will attend Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va. this summer for a private pilot license-training program. She is one of only 120 AFJROTC cadets to be chosen for the scholarship.

"I'm fascinated with the mechanics of flight and want to travel the world," said Amya. "This is my opportunity to test myself and see what I can really do."

More than 700 cadets applied for the scholarships. There are more than 120,000 high school students enrolled in AFJROTC at more than 880 high schools in the U.S and overseas. The Air Force is paying $2.4 million to teach 120 AFJROTC cadets how to fly as part of an initiative to address a shortage of pilots. Recipients of the scholarship will take classes this summer, each course lasting between seven and nine weeks.

Each scholarship in the initial round is valued at approximately $20,000 per cadet. It covers transportation, room and board, academics and flight hours required to earn a private-pilot license.

The cadets will not incur a military commitment after the flight academy, nor does getting the license guarantee acceptance into one of the Air Force's officer programs. Amya will be training with the Cessna 172. She dreams of one day joining the Air Force and flying the C-17 Globemaster.

"Some people don't achieve their goals because they are afraid to come out their comfort zone," said Amya. "I don't always catch on to things as quickly as someone else, but as long as I keep striving there's nothing that I cannot accomplish."

The mission of AFJROTC is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community, while instilling values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and sense of accomplishment.