Bridgeland student picked for AFJROTC Flight Academy Program
Bridgeland High School junior Tomas Caruso receive a scholarship to take part in the 2022 Air Force Flight Academy Program. He was among only 200 Air Force JROTC cadets across the United States and globally to earn the opportunity. The academy was established in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address the national civilian and military pilot shortage. Participants can earn their certification at no cost during an eight-week summer course at partner universities.
April 18, 2022—Bridgeland High School junior Tomas Caruso was among 200 Air Force JROTC cadets across the United States and globally to receive a scholarship to take part in the 2022 Air Force Flight Academy Program and earn the opportunity to attain their private pilot certification.
The highly-selective program is an Air Force-level initiative established in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address the national civilian and military pilot shortage. The Flight Academy allows aspiring young aviators to earn their certification at no cost during an eight-week summer course at partner universities.
Caruso had an interest in becoming a pilot but his aspirations grew while attending a cousin’s graduation from Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
“It opened up the doors a lot more to me and made me realize how big the world can really be,” said Caruso, who hopes to either earn acceptance into the United State Air Force Academy or join an Air Force ROTC program while in college.
Caruso will take part in the flight academy in Maryland in June and July. He is currently working toward attaining flight hours. Eventually, he hopes to fly as a commercial pilot.
“I’m very happy and very gracious that I received this opportunity,” he said. “Now, there’s more that I can invest in to improve myself. It’s going to look good to the Air Force that I want to become one of their pilots and I was already trained in a program that is one of theirs. And now that we don’t have to invest all this money in that specific license, this can help me invest in a secondary license, which will give me an edge over all my competitors.”
More than 1,300 AFJROTC cadets applied for the program, with 200 receiving scholarships to cover transportation, room and board, academics and flight hours required to earn the private pilot certification. The scholarship is valued at approximately $22,500.
In his congratulatory letter to selected cadets and alternates, Col. Johnny McGonigal, Air Force JROTC director, said earning this honor is a significant accomplishment and encouraged all attendees to “make the most of this amazing opportunity.”