The Upper Camp Retreat that kicked off Homecoming Weekend ran a little longer than usual, but nobody was complaining.
The extra time taken was used to recognize a rare accomplishment by Aviation First Classman Robert “Bo” Adams (Ponte Vedra, Fla.). Adams received his Gold Wings from Aviation Director Mary Kaye, Aviation Operations Bill Welch, and Director of Upper School Capt. Jim Greene in a brief ceremony.
It is the first time in a decade that a Culver camper has received his Gold Wings, which signifies the student has earned a private pilot license. Adams, who will be a second classman at Culver Military Academy this fall, did all his flying during his summer sessions.
Receiving his pilot’s license is not just a landmark for Adams, it also a testament to the dedication of Culver’s rejuvenated Aviation program.
“It shows it’s possible,” Mary Kaye Welch said. “[We] reached our goal, which has been to make it possible for our students to earn their pilot licenses while here at Culver.”
Adams was introduced to flying during the Basic Aviation class offered at Woodcraft. After his first Discovery Flight he was hooked. “He’s really put in a lot of time and effort,” said Welch. “Last year there was an extra week, nicknamed Week Seven, where Aviation students could stay to get in some extra flying time. Bo took advantage of that opportunity and spent the entire week flying.”
The idea and feeling of being alone in a plane is amazing.
Each step of the way, Adams learned more about himself and learned how to overcome challenges. On his first solo flight, he was confused about which of the four runways he was supposed to land on. “I had to keep circling around to figure it out.”
It’s an experience he laughs about now since he has more flight time under his belt, but it taught him the lesson of persistence.
Persistence is a large part of earning your Gold Wings. The minimum number of flight hours required for a private pilot license for Culver’s specific program is 35. However, Adams has flown 76-plus hours in order to prepare for and feel confident during his check ride.
Included in that time are more than 10 hours of solo time, three hours of night flight, and a 150 nautical mile cross-country flight. One must also pass a medical examination by a certified Federal Aviation Administration physician, pass the written FAA examination, and pass the oral and flight check-ride administered by an FAA-certified examiner.
Adams will be staying an extra week after camp this year; this time to work on his Instrument Flight Rating certification. This certification is for pilots who have learned to rely on their instruments while flying through clouds and storms without seeing the ground.
He doesn’t know exactly what he plans to do. Whether it is through the Air Force or commercial flying, it’s going to be hard to keep his feet on the ground for long. And, even with the challenges, Adams said he is never nervous about flying, just always excited.
“The idea and feeling of being alone in a plane is amazing.”