2016 New Student Glider Camp in Review

In mid-July and early August 2016, five new GKWFA students participated in glider flight training at Santa Barbara Soaring, located at Santa Ynez Airport in California. Waking up early to start training at 8:00 a.m. and staying until about 5 p.m., the students spent their days at the camp being taught to fly glider aircraft. By the end of their time there, all five students were ready to solo, although due to a delay in receiving their student licenses from the FAA only one, Emma Hall, was able to do so.

Nevertheless, being up in the air for the first time was both very exciting and memorable for 15-year-old GKWFA student Giovanni Branaugh, who said it was a “great experience” getting to see the progress he made over the course of his time at the camp.

“At the beginning, I couldn’t really fly too well, and everybody was telling me, ‘Oh, in a couple of days you’ll be like, ‘Wow, this is amazing! I’m doing everything by myself!’ And I’m like, ‘No, that’s not going to be me,’ because on the first I couldn’t – the instructor had to really help me fly,” he recalls. “But by the third day, everything was really good; I was doing everything by myself. It was just like I was taking the instructor for a ride.”

GKWFA student Giovanni Branaugh in the glider with flight instructor Cindy Brickner

GKWFA student Giovanni Branaugh in the glider with flight instructor Cindy Brickner

Flight instructor Cindy Brickner, who taught the students at the camp, has been working in aviation instruction for 25 years and said it’s generally pretty rare for high school students to have opportunities to fly, as the training is costly and requires a substantial commitment of time and energy. “All of the kids are enthusiastic, motivated, and excited to have this flight opportunity,” she noted.

Left to Right: Kyle Viramontes, Cindy Brickner, Gio Branaugh, and James Elkjer

Left to Right: Kyle Viramontes, Cindy Brickner, Gio Branaugh, and James Elkjer

Bill Vrastil, the owner of Santa Barbara Soaring, noted that the instruction the staff at Santa Barbara Soaring gives to the GKWFA students is the most gratifying training they do throughout the year.
“The days are long and hot, but the enthusiasm these young men and women show for their love of flying gives us all an intangible gift every time we see them return from a flight,” he commented.
Leandro Carde,15, another of the students at the camp, noted that through learning to fly he had acquired more scientific and practical knowledge.

“It’s changed me personally because, you know, not just only [do] you have to learn how to fly, you have to know a lot about weather, the engine in the aircraft, mapping, navigation, those kinds of things,” Carde commented. “If I didn’t have my flying lessons and ground instruction…I probably wouldn’t know longitude, latitude, true north, and magnetic north, the difference between true altitude and AGL [the vertical distance of the plane above ground level] and such.”

Branaugh and Carde, along with students Emma Hall, Kyle Viramontes, and James Elkjer, plan to continue their flight training in hopes of acquiring their glider pilot licenses. Beyond that, Branaugh, Carde and Hall plan to pursue careers in aviation.

If you would like to support these students and help make their dreams a reality, please consider making a donation to GKWFA.

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