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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

A future destined for the skies

Head JROTC senior earns pilot’s license
Izzy Burgess
Senior Gavin Brodene was a part of the flight academy for six to eight weeks where he learned the importance of team comradery for his flight license. “It was definitely a life changing experience,” Brodene said.

Not many people have been able to say that they have their pilot’s license before they had their driver’s license. Senior Gavin Brodene is not the average
person, though.

Through the past four years in high school, Brodene learned how to fly a plane, and has already been accepted into a university’s aeronautical program, all while being in and becoming the student leader of the school’s JROTC program.

Gavin’s path towards becoming a pilot started in Hawaii, where he initially was exposed to influences while living at Pearl Harbor which would help steer him in the direction of military aviation.

“He joined the Civil Air Patrol there, and that got him into the whole military thing,” Camron Brodene, Gavin’s younger brother said. “In other places we lived, there was not too much opportunity, and being at Pearl Harbor we got to see a whole bunch of stuff, and since that program was there it was able to give him the opportunity to get a whole bunch of really good skills.”

Gavin was also motivated by his father’s career, too.

“My dad was in the Air Force, he was an air traffic controller… being influenced by him I wanted to go into the Air Force,” Gavin said.

Gavin joined the Civil Air Patrol in Hawaii, and found a branch of it in Charleston when he moved. Once we moved here, he tried to find that, which he was able to get into, and he’s been in it for a few years now,” Cameron said.

“That’s when he transformed.”

Senior Gavin Brodene was able to earn his flight licenses through the flight academy along with eight other people. “It’s very challenging but working together with other people
working towards the same common goal makes life that much easier,” Brodene said. (Izzy Burgess)

After moving from Hawaii to South Carolina, Gavin was immediately thrown into his freshman year of high school.

“I know these people came from middle schools here so they already have friend groups,” Gavin said. “Being in ROTC, I could go somewhere where I knew people.”

Joining JROTC was not just a move to fit in though, there were some serious perks for a kid who wants to fly for the Air Force.

“I joined JROTC because I heard there was a flight scholarship you could get, that paid for your private pilot’s license in full,” Gavin said. “I couldn’t get to it until my junior year, so I applied myself in freshman and sophomore year so that I could be a competitive applicant.”

The effort Gavin put into JROTC day in and day out hardly went unnoticed.

“You start off being 14 years old… but back then you could see he was focused, he had goals… he’s been a go-getter from the first day he showed up here,” Major Ferese, Gavin’s teacher, said.

As a result of his notable contribution and dedication to the school’s JROTC program, Gavin would rise the ranks.

“His day to day performance causes people to respect him,” Ferese said. “[JROTC students] consider him someone they can rely on, [they] consider him as someone they can look up to.”

That effort and his position, along with all the lessons he learned in JROTC, would help him qualify and then apply for a scholarship to get his private pilot license.

“I applied at the beginning of my junior year, I had to go through… a physical fitness test, taking academic test called the Air Force officer qualification test,” Gavin said. “I foundout in December that I was put on the alternate list for the academy, which was pretty upsetting.”

However things would turn to the positive.

“I pressed and just kept doing the stuff I needed to do, and about a month later in January I got a phone call saying that there was a slot opening up and that I was being moved up to a primary candidate,” Gavin said. “There’s thousands of applicants each year, only around 250 get in.”

Gavin would inevitably differentiate himself in the academy just like he did with his ROTC group.

Izzy Burgess

“Me and seven other cadets from around the country finished flight training within six weeks, I finished in five and a half,” Gavin said.

Despite his extremely respectable time to finish, and maybe even because of it, the environment Brodene trained in was pressuring.

“It was a very stressed environment because you were on a very strict time limit,” Gavin said, “Usually it takes people a few years to get their private pilot’s license, they’re asking us to get it done in 8 weeks.”

This environment promoted cooperation and teamwork between Gavin and fellow cadets in the program.

“It was something I’ll never forget about helping other people and having other people help me… I couldn’t have done it by myself,”

Gavin said. Looking ahead into the future, Gavin plans to apply to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach after getting accepted into their flight program.

“I’m going to be doing Air Force ROTC down there for four years and then hopefully get picked up for a pilot training slot, and then fly for the Air Force… I’m looking to fly the F-22,” Gavin said.

Gavin’s extensive effort in the school’s JROTC program, and the resulting leadership positions along with his commitment to earning his pilot’s license has set him up for success in college and in the future.

“Whenever there was something that needed to get done, he would always volunteer,” Ferese said. “He had goals… and he knew that in order to achieve them, there was a certain path he needed to follow.”

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