U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Leanne Trump grew up listening to stories about service and aviation dating back to World War II. A self-described military brat who grew up on Air Force Bases across the country, Trump developed a love for flying before she ever climbed into a cockpit.
Now a senior at the Academy, Trump recently completed her first solo flight at the Flight Training Center and is pursuing her private pilot’s license. Exposure to the Academy’s Aero Club staff and additional flight lessons have helped Trump decide to pursue aviation in the Air Force.
“The instructors there are really great. Most have an Air Force background, and many are grads,” she said. “It’s been really helpful to hear and benefit from their experiences – and there’s no pressure from them – it’s about having fun and learning.”
Trump took both the gliding and powered flight programs offered by the Academy but was unable to solo due to weather limitations. Soloing in an aircraft was a big confidence boost for Trump as she prepares for the possibility of Air Force pilot training after graduation.
“It was hot; I was sweating, but I was able to calm my nerves, and it was one of the best flights I have ever had,” she said. “Exploring Colorado from the air – amazing.”
The aero club offers a wide variety of aviation services to cadets, service members, retirees, contractors and their families at a reduced cost. The program is expanding as its membership continues to grow and will soon add more aircraft and avionics capabilities.
Many cadets use the club to improve their Pilot Candidate Selection Method score while others pursue their pilot’s license to join the Academy’s Flying Team.
“The most defining moment in your career [in Air Force aviation] is the night that you’re assigned your aircraft during pilot training,” said Christopher Carper, program manager, lead instructor and retired Air Force aviator. “Everything you do up to that point is going to determine what you’re going to do for the next 20 or 30 years of your career – so you might as well get ahead here.”
A recent Air Force inspection of the aero club noted multiple best practices it would recommend to similar programs across the Air Force. Carper said it was a testament to the instructors, maintainers and more than 180 club members here.
For information about the Flight Training Center and Academy Aero Club visit: https://www.usafasupport.com/aero-club.html