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While some teenagers take on a summer job, stay active in sports, or rest and relax, one Mount Ayr student learned to fly an airplane this summer thanks to the United States Air Force.
Aidan Murphy traveled to South Dakota State University, SD this past July to attend a three-week introductory course offered by Aim High Flight Academy (AHFA).
When he arrived, he learned he was not the only Iowan. His roommate happened to be from Story City, Iowa. Murphy received classroom training (ground school), flight simulator training, and flew with FAA Certified Flight Instructors, logging a total of 15 flight hours.
Murphy will continue to be mentored by Air Force aviators, although there is no commitment or obligation to join the Air Force.
Murphy first learned of the Aim High Flight Academy roughly two years ago. It was too late to apply at first, but he anxiously watched for the next opportunity to apply in the fall of 2022.
The application process included writing an essay and sending school transcripts, “they want to know you want to be there to fly,” Murphy states.
He submitted his application on Thanksgiving day, then on December 23, 2022, Murphy received a text message from his sponsor, Andrew Iannotta. “I was sitting at home working on a model airplane when I got a text that said ‘look at your email.’ It was the best email I’ve ever gotten!” recalled Murphy.
Murphy learned he was one of 188 applicants who received an aviation scholarship through the Aim High Flight Academy (AHFA) out of roughly 1,600 applicants.
The AHFA seeks to inform, influence, and inspire the next generation of aviators and leaders. Participants learn about pathways to becoming an Air Force officer, or aviator, and earn up to 15 flight hours to jump start their education. Those seeking to become a pilot must log at least 1,500 flight hours, which has decreased from 2,500 hours, as the nation faces a pilot shortage.
Murphy’s love of airplanes came from living in Houston, TX around 2014-2015, as his family lived near an Air National Guard Unit and saw airplanes like the NASA T-38 and army helicopters fly over on a regular basis.
He also met a retired Navy fighter pilot at the church he attended, and loved talking to him about flying an F-16.
His love of airplanes really took off when his parents, Jim and Tara (Groves) Murphy, moved their family to Buffalo, NY, where they lived even closer to an airport. It was around that time that his cousin, Carter, joined Civil Air Patrol, a program funded by the Air Force that mentors youth between the ages of 12-21.
Then Murphy attended his first Civil Air Patrol meeting at the Buffalo Niagara Airport along with 10-15 other people when he was around 13 years old. Murphy claims “It is the best plane spotting airport in the nation. You’re really close when the planes take off!”
Murphy flew for the first time on August 19, 2020 through an opportunity with the Civil Air Patrol. He was chosen, along with a buddy, to fly roughly 30-45 minutes from Rochester, NY to a suburb of Buffalo, NY with a senior member of the Civil Air Patrol who had his pilot’s license.
Murphy got to ride up front with the captain, and once they were up in the air, they allowed him to do some 45 degree turns.
“That’s what I hope to do when I get my pilots license,” states Murphy. He plans to obtain his private pilot’s license and is aiming to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) so he can share his love of flying with others.
Murphy’s future plans include applying to attend Liberty University in Texas, a smaller Christian school that also has an aviation program. “You’ve got the gospel and airplanes, what could be better?” Murphy states.