The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Student earns Flight Academy scholarship


January 20, 2019

Courtesy photo

Clovis High School senior Jason Garten received a scholarship valued at $20,000 from the Air Force to earn his private pilot's license.

CLOVIS - For most people, it costs a lot of money to earn a private pilot's license. That won't be the case for Clovis High School senior Jason Garten.

Garten was recently selected as one of 150 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets nationwide to receive a Flight Academy scholarship from the Air Force, a training program that allows cadets to earn a private pilot's license free of charge.

"They teach you the physics of flight, the terms, how to fly, how to talk to air traffic control, how to talk on the radio, how to actually fly a plane and a whole bunch of other stuff, so it's a lot," Garten said.

The program does not include any military commitment, but Garten said he has already enlisted in the Air Force. His ship out date to basic training will be delayed so he can complete the Flight Academy program.

While the Air Force has not shared with Garten or CHS AFJROTC instructor Maj. Lawrence Alan Fields any feedback as to why the cadet was selected, Fields said Garten had a strong resume.

Now in his fourth year of AFJROTC after initially joining as a freshman when he was living in Okinawa, Japan, Fields said Garten has competed on various teams including marksmanship and drill. He's also completed several programs on model aircrafts and drones, as well as ground school for both drones and planes.

Garten said he was drawn to JROTC as an eighth grader living in Japan when one of his best friends who was a year older had joined the group.

"I saw all the stuff he did, all the trips he went on. He actually got to wear the actual Air Force uniform, the service blues, he got to wear those and I thought that was really cool. So I did that ninth grade year and I loved it. So I've just been doing it since," Garten said.

Besides spending four years in Japan, Garten also lived in Abilene, Texas, for 7 1/2 years and in Anchorage, Alaska, for 2 1/2 years, moving around due to his father's career in the Air Force.

"Honestly it's exposed me to a lot, especially different cultures like moving to Japan, going to Texas, going to Alaska," Garten said. "So I've been in Alaska where it's cold and windy, then I went to Texas where it's dry and hot, and then I went to Japan where it's dry and humid, made it here to New Mexico where it's just windy and dry."

Garten said he enjoys JROTC.

"It gives me opportunities to meet a whole bunch of people, I guess lead teams of kids my age, have all of them look up to me, expecting me to know what to do," Garten said. "And when I know what to do then I tell them what to do and they go off and do their own thing. It feels great."

Now in just its second year, Garten will be the third Clovis cadet to take part in Flight Academy after CHS sent three students last year.

"I feel pretty good about the program that we've got and the standard that we hold kids to and they're being recognized nationally for that," Fields said. "I think that you don't want to pat yourself on the back too much, but I think the program is preparing them to excel and I think that's one thing that shows."


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