posted Aug 18, 2014, 1:35 PM by Richard Qualls
Coastal Composite Squadron's Cadet Commander C/1stLt Robert S Gradel earned his solo flying certificate on July 6th after graduating from the Civil Air Patrol's Powered Flight Academy at Blackstone, Virginia.  Gradel was  selected earlier this year for the Powered Flight Academy from among CAP cadets around the country.  Twenty-four cadets were instructed by fifteen certified instructor pilots, and fifteen Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft were gathered at Fort Pickett in Blackstone for use during the Powered Flight Academy.  
Gradel and the other cadets successfully completed a rigorous eight-day program which included twenty-five hours of Ground School classwork and at least ten hours of flying time per cadet.  Cadets who passed all necessary exams and who performed exceptionally well in the air during their instructional flights were allowed to solo -- to take-off, fly, and later land the aircraft while alone in the cockpit with no instructor or other passengers onboard.  Gradel met that standard and was allowed to solo; he earned his Solo Wings at a graduation ceremony on July 6th where his mother and father were allowed to pin on his wings.  He now proudly wears those wings on his Civil Air Patrol uniform.