Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) recently celebrated “The Super Sixteen,” a group of Junior ROTC cadets who graduated from the university’s intensive, eight-week Flight Academy. These cadets came from across the country and Guam to complete the training at no cost to the students. The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy cover the program costs for the cadets in their respective branches of the armed forces while the students gain aviation experience and college credits.

“This scholarship program represents a special collaboration between the Air Force and Navy, the aerospace industry, and partnering universities to help address a national pilot shortage and diversify the aviation workforce.  ECSU is very proud of its unique aviation program, and now welcome another group of young ambassadors to help us tell the story,” said ECSU Chancellor Karrie G. Dixon. “To the third ECSU flight academy class, “The Super Sixteen,” I applaud your determination and hard work throughout this rigorous training program. You are leaders, and we extend heartfelt congratulations to you.”

ECSU is one of 24 universities across the United States that provides flight training for Junior ROTC cadets. Last year, the Air Force and Navy partnered with the university for the second class of academy cadets, “The Super Sixteen.”

JROTC cadets with Provost Ward, Dr. Rawat, Chancellor Dixon, and the ECSU team

JROTC cadets with Provost Farrah Ward, Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, Chancellor Karrie Dixon, and members of the ECSU Aviation Department

As the ceremony keynote speaker, Naval Airforce Atlantic Rear Admiral John F. Meier encouraged program graduates with sage advice.

“The three lessons that I have learned during my naval career is always treat people with respect and dignity; to pursue passion with an eye toward perfection, looking for ways you can always improve; and to choose your life’s path with passion,” he said.

All cadets arrived on campus May 31, flew solo flights, and passed their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) written examination. In addition, 13 cadets met the requirements to be tested by an FAA examiner for their Private Pilot License. While the U.S. Air Force and Office of Naval Research provide scholarships to attend the Flight Academy, there is no mandatory service obligation.

Landon Peake, 17, of Clover, S.C., obtained his private pilot’s license through the program. This year he graduated, a year early, from Clover High School. “Our instructors were good and communicated well,” he said, adding that he most enjoyed flying over the beach while training. “I was only scared once. Hard work pays off.”