By Michelle Treasure
Many students hope to fly high in their careers after graduation. For 12 Air Force ROTC cadets, that dream will come true. Literally.
All 12 of the BYU cadets who applied for pilot slots with the Air Force were admitted, much higher than the national average of a 60 percent admission rate. Upon graduation, these cadets will be assigned to an Air Force base to begin pilot training.
?BYU consistently has a high turnout,? said Sgt. Reginald Davenport. He said what was surprising about this year was that all 12 cadets got their first choice of position and were all on the primary list of accepted cadets.
Admission is based on physical fitness, overall GPA, field training leadership score and commander ranking. There are also a variety of tests, including standardized tests of verbal and quantitative skills as well as a test of practical skills. Cadets are then given a national ranking among all applicants.
Many cadets have been preparing for this honor for years. Field training scores are earned after their second year in the ROTC program. Classes and tests culminate when cadets submit applications in December of their third year and find out in March whether they are accepted.
Joseph Paredes, a senior from Turlock, Calif., majoring in mechanical engineering and recently accepted pilot, said he participated in extracurricular cadet activities such as Color Guard and Honor Guard to better his relationship with commanders and improve his participation in the organization.
After graduation, accepted pilots will participate in 12 months of undergraduate pilot training to learn to fly. From there, they will receive specific training for the plane they will maneuver.
?I love the excitement of being able to fly,? said Braden Eagar, a senior from Chicago majoring in mechanical engineering. He said being an Air Force pilot is an exciting career opportunity with lots of options.
BYU cadets excelled in a tough admissions process, a fact many cadets credit to the atmosphere of BYU and its ROTC detachment.
?There is a high quality and high caliber of people at BYU,? Eagar said. He added that BYU cadets do well at field training and know how to prepare for tests.
?The [BYU] instructors place a heavy emphasis on aviation,? Davenport said. The BYU detachment also includes students from UVU, which has an aviation science major that greatly benefits students.
?BYU teaches us to really care for our people,? Paredes said. He said it is an important quality for future Air Force officers whose jobs will be taking care of people below them.
?We are able to do great things. We stick together and take care of each other,? he said.