Civil Air Patrol cadet earns his ‘wings’


Cadet Staff Sgt. Felice Rucci is the 98th cadet to receive his private pilot's certificate through the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Wings program. 

“I stepped off a plane in Washington when I was 7 years old,” Rucci said. “That moment when you take off the ground, it just clicks. It's like a magic moment that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” 

Cadet Staff Sgt. Felice Rucci with his flight instructor, Capt. Martha Pickard.

Rucci said he appreciates how the Civil Air Patrol programs prepare and push cadets.  

"Intense training, but it pays off in the end,” he said. “You learn a common motto in the aviation industry, 'you never stop learning.’ There are airline pilots still learning something new every day. It's just a constant building upon yourself to make yourself a better pilot, a safer pilot and a happier life." 

The Cadet Wings program is a scholarship made available to Civil Air Patrol cadets and funded by the U.S. Air Force to help curb the growing pilot shortage.  

“We’re making pilots in upstate New York thanks to the Cadet Wings scholarship program and it is awesome,” said Capt. Martha Pickard, flight instructor.