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Tar River Cadet’s Journey to his Private Pilot’s License

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C/Lt Col Richard Green preparing for early morning flying with Lt Col Dion Viventi in preparation for his solo in CAP Cessna “Betty” on 23 August 2018. Photo credit: 1st Lt Liz Dunster, CAP (click image to view full size)
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It takes a (flying) community

7/15/2019––1st Lt Nicholas Green, C/Lt Col Rich Green’s father, recalls that when Cadet Green was 3 months old, they were watching “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” at home and noticed the baby’s eyes glued to the screen during the Pod racing scene. The little boy had not shown any interest in watching any of the other “baby” video’s family and friends had bought for him. Lt Green says looking back, that was the first inkling they had that their son would be interested in flight. All the toy cars? They remain in pristine collectible condition. Some are still sealed in their original packaging. If it could fly (or pretend fly) that was a different matter. “At age 2 he told us he wanted to be an astronaut.”
Cadet Green joined Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in Howard County, MD at the end of 8th grade, at the encouragement of STEM instructors from the Howard County Library. They noticed his passion for aviation and suggested that CAP would be a good place for a teen like him. A year later the family moved to Wilson, NC and that was where Cadet Green’s flying dreams began to take flight.
Lt Col William Hess, then the CAP squadron commander of the Tar River Composite Squadron, recognized quickly that Cadet Green was a wannabe pilot, and got him in the air with CAP pilots, using the Cadet Orientation Ride program. The squadron also worked closely with the Wilson chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and, after helping at a Young Eagles event at the Rocky Mount Wilson Airport in 2014, C/Lt Col Green e-mailed the Chapter President, Keith Daughety, and asked if he could attend meetings. Mr. Daughety said “yes” and Cadet Green brought his parents along to the monthly meetings where he became a regular fixture.
The next step in the process was realizing that as a CAP cadet he could attend Aviation Ground School during the summer of 2015 in South Carolina run by the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. His parents drove him down where he spent 2 weeks immersed in aviation with others as passionate about it as he was. During the summer of 2016, he attended CAP’s Powered Flight Academy, where he spent an entire week in Blackstone, VA learning how to fly a Cessna 172 and was awarded his pre-solo wings for an accompanied solo. That same summer, he spent a week at the EAA’s Advanced Air Academy in Oshkosh, WI on a partial scholarship from EAA Chapter 1047.  There he learned about aircraft construction, received some additional flight training and was immersed in the most aviation heavy event of the year- AirVenture.
Meanwhile, the Tar River Composite Squadron learned that their host airport, the Rocky Mount Wilson Airport, had a new Airport Director who was not only a CAP member, but also a flight instructor – and thus Lt Col Dion Viventi entered the picture. Lt Col Viventi realized that there was an enthusiastic cadet in the squadron who desperately wanted his wings.  Over the summer of 2018, he gave Cadet Green his “best news of the year” - intensive flight training in the CAP Cessna 172 known as “Betty” at the Rocky Mount Wilson Airport.  Lots of dawn flight training paid off and Cadet Green soloed in “Betty” in August of 2018.
Hurricane Florence and finishing up his Associate's degree in Engineering at Nash Community College interfered some with his flying, but Cadet Green continued with the Ground School that Lt Col Viventi offered to CAP members before weekly meetings and passed his FAA written exam in March 2019.
Meanwhile the EAA announced a generous nationwide flight scholarship opportunity that chapters could offer to teenagers, and EAA Chapter 1047’s Donnie Boyette jumped on it, knowing that in their midst was a teenager who would leap at the opportunity, and a flight instructor who would work with him. Within days of Cadet Green receiving word that he was the recipient of Chapter 1047’s Ray Aviation Scholarship, he began intensive training with Lt Col Viventi, at every opportunity they could get in. This was in between North Carolina thunderstorms, engineering finals, and Lt Col Viventi's day job as the Director of the Rocky Mount Wilson Airport. 
Along the way a headset donated by Lightspeed Aviation arrived for the budding pilot as part of the Ray Aviation Scholarship. Lots of hard work, time juggling and preparation paid off, including preparatory check rides with CAP and EAA member and flight instructor Capt Gary Shelley.  Cadet Green had his private pilot check ride with designated pilot examiner Johnny Henley at Kinston Regional Jetport on 10 July 2019. He passed, and on his return was greeted by Chapter 1047 President, Keith Daughety, his parents and the ex-commander of his CAP squadron (now Deputy Commander for Cadets) Lt Col Hess, who were all ready to congratulate the new pilot in the traditional method reserved for these occasions - by giving him a good soaking. It turns out that EAA Chapter 1047 had had members waiting at the airport's FBO the entire day, waiting for the good news and waiting to soak the new pilot.
Lt Col Viventi says “training with Cadet Green towards his private pilot certificate was quite an exciting journey as we progressed through all of the many milestones together from his first solo flight to his long distance cross country and everywhere in between.  He was able to accomplish his training goals with the help of everyone’s support from the Rocky Mount Wilson Regional Airport and Wilson Industrial Air Center providing an excellent training grounds and to all the members of the local EAA Chapter 1047 and their generosity through the Ray Scholarship Award. All our collective flying community came together including the local CAP squadron by providing their Skyhawk for his solo training. Richard showed great patience and persistence in his quest for acquisition of all the required knowledge and skills necessary in preparation to pass undoubtedly one of the most challenging tests of human endeavor known and I congratulate him on completing this goal while simultaneously working though all of his other advocations - Well Done Cadet Green!”
C/Lt Col Green is extremely appreciative of the community that came together to make his dreams take flight. He says, “A big thank you to Dion Viventi, Gary Shelley, Donnie Boyette, the folks of Chapter 1047, Lightspeed Aviation Foundation, the Experimental Aircraft Association, Civil Air Patrol and the Flying Musicians Association for their support.” He went on to say, “Dion put in an immense amount of time and effort training me at ungodly early hours of the morning. Gary chose to come out and help train me for my check ride. Donnie organized the chapter being able to give me the scholarship in the first place. 1047 nominated me for the scholarship and then quite literally was there for me almost every day. Lightspeed as part of my scholarship sent me a very, very nice headset. EAA is of course the people responsible for the scholarship existing in the first place. The Flying Musicians Association, for having been supportive for the past few years and sent me a rather nice flight bag, and Civil Air Patrol with Dion, for supporting my solo initiative last summer.”
C/Lt Col Green headed off to Canada to represent CAP and the USA through the International Air Cadet Exchange on the 21st of July, and is attending East Carolina University in the Fall to continue his engineering studies. As for flying he wants to give back to the community by training to volunteer as a CAP Mission Pilot and helping EAA Chapter 1047 fly Young Eagles flights. He says simply, “They seem like good causes.”