Benson graduated from Navy Elite Flying Academy – Henry County Times

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Damon Benson flew high this summer – literally.

Prior to starting his final year at Eagle’s Landing High School, Benson graduated from an elite US Navy flight academy in Delaware, where he completed an intense eight-week aviation training program and graduated. FAA private pilot. He was selected for the program by the Commander of the Naval Air Forces (CNAF) and his participation was funded through a Navy JROTC scholarship program designed to increase diversity in aviation.

“My experience at the CNAF Flight Academy was wonderful. It’s something I’ve dreamed of for years, and when the Navy offered me this opportunity, I didn’t even have to think about it, ”he said. “Being able to meet a lot of different people, being here with my Navy brothers, being able to fly planes at 17 – it’s just something I never could have thought possible.”

Damon Benson, senior at Eagles Landing High School, recently completed an intense eight-week aviation training program and earned his private pilot’s license from the FAA. Special photo

Benson maintains a 4.0 GPA on ELHS and is the school’s JROTC unit commander. His goal is to be a naval aviator.

“From an early age, going to air shows and watching the Blue Angels, I was always fascinated by the FA-18s,” he said. “It’s my goal, when I join the Navy, to fly FA-18s or F-35s. I wouldn’t be opposed to piloting either.

The fact that she was offered a scholarship to attend made a huge impression. “It means a lot. It shows how much the Navy cares about people who care,” he said. “If you’re doing your part and showing interest, as long as you’re doing the right things , you will be rewarded. “

After entering the program without any flying experience, Benson received 35 hours of theory lessons in aviation and over 45 hours of day and night flight training in a single-engine Vulcanair V.10 aircraft. As part of the certification process, Benson was required to complete 17 hours of solo flying.

He received his FAA certificate and license at a graduation ceremony Aug. 12 at Delaware State University. The guest speaker for the event was the Commander of the Navy and NASA astronaut Victor J. Glover.

“The goal of the scholarship program is to expose exceptional minority students to a career path that currently lacks diversity,” said Commander Chris “Frozone” Williams, Navy fighter pilot, instructor and director of the diversity, equity and inclusion. “Damon Benson has what it takes to be a leader in aviation, and the Navy is honored to play a role in his personal and professional journey. “

In partnership with the Office of Naval Research, the CNAF Flight Academy is part of the CNAF initiative aimed at increasing diversity within naval aviation. The demographics of officers in this field are currently 89 percent male and 88 percent white, with black pilots accounting for less than three percent.

Benson is determined to make the most of this recent opportunity, and he is motivated to continue pursuing his passion. He advises other high school students to do the same.

“Whatever you want to do, be passionate about it and do it. Don’t let others influence you, ”he said. “If it’s something that you feel in your heart and want to do, do it. It doesn’t matter if it makes other people happy. If that makes you happy, do it.

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