When Kurtis was about three years old, he decided that he was going to be a pilot. When I joined the Navy, he was seven, and his dream went from just flying to being a Blue Angels pilot. Specifically, he wanted to fly Fat Albert. When we moved to Pensacola, Florida, we continued to support his dream by applying and sending him to the best school in the city and taking him to the aviation museum often. By the time we moved to Georgia, he could have given his own tour there, and he knew more than I did about aviation history, which was hilarious, as my job in the Navy was in the aviation field.
So naturally, when we were given the opportunity for him to join the Civil Air Patrol here in Georgia, we jumped on it. He had tried the Young Marines, and didn't like it all that much, but the CAP program combined his love for aviation and a sense of purpose. Once Kurtis receives his ground-team qualification, he can go out on rescue missions to search for downed aircraft. And of course, CAP also helps with scholarships for his flight lessons and can help get him into a military college, if he truly wishes to pursue flying in the military.
Yesterday, Kurtis received his first stripe and they will be soon holding a promotion ceremony for him - I'm so proud! I got him a printout I found on the CAP website to help him keep track of what he needs to be doing for each promotion and that he can check off as he goes along. (Rank tracker) He will also be attending the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida this summer, and he is so excited to spend 10 days in his old stomping ground - though for a chunk of it he will be "deployed" on the Ambition! Next summer, things are truly going to get real when he begins his actual aviation lessons after his 14th birthday.
As a mom, I'm pretty freaked out that my baby will be up there on the controls himself. I'm already praying for his safety and he hasn't even started yet. I've also caught some criticism from other parents by allowing him to go after his dream so young because it is dangerous, but I honestly feel that holding him back would do more harm than good - there are restrictions based on age that he will have to abide by for a reason, but until he is 18, he will always be up there with an experienced pilot. Most of his peers will soon be preparing to get their driver's license, and while he will be right there with them, statistically speaking, flying is safer.