Cadets from NPHS Air Force JROTC Reach New Heights

Photo of students.

Two of North Penn High School's (NPHS) Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) students recently took the ride of their lives as they took part in their first orientation flight from Doylestown to Pottstown and back.

Mike Wister, a senior at NPHS and a cadet colonel in the JROTC took turns with NPHS sophomore and JROTC cadet lieutenant colonel Lorna Loughery riding in the front seat in a small aircraft, a Cessna 182.

"I was eager to learn more about flying, to experiencing it rather than seeing it in a classroom," Mike said. Lorna was also excited, but slightly more analytical in her thoughts before the flight. "I expected it to be somewhat complicated and I expected the controls to be very sensitive," she said.

The opportunity to take flight on a Cessna 182 was earned by Mike and Lorna by being cadets in JROTC. As part of the program, the United States Air Force funds one orientation flight for every Air Force JROTC cadet and the JROTC has an agreement with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to provide aircraft and pilots to fly JROTC cadets.

North Penn pride was running deep on this particular flight as the plane was flown by Captain Matt Wendell, science teacher at Penndale Middle School. Captain Wendell has been flying for over 20 years and has been a member of CAP since 2003. While he has flown former students before, this was the first time he had flown JROTC cadets and former students at the same time.

For the first half of the flight, Mike flew in the front seat while Lorna rode in the back. After a 45- minute flight, the North Penn trio landed at an airport near Pottstown and Mike and Lorna swapped seats for the return flight back to Doylestown. During each flight, the cadets got a chance to fly the airplane while enjoying the snow-covered sights of Pennsylvania, even flying over NPHS.

After landing, both Mike and Lorna were ecstatic. "It was great to get the opportunity to learn how to control an aircraft and get a firsthand view," Mike said. "A lot better experience than just talking about it."

Lorna agreed, explaining, "It was one of if not the best thing I have ever done. It was amazing to see the world from a different perspective and experience it with a teacher who I never thought I would end up flying with."