Guyer High School AFJROTC Cadets Receive Scholarships, Take to the Skies
Guyer High School senior Molly Cullum had an admittedly unique idea when she and fellow senior Brayden Stanley returned from the Air Force JROTC Flight Academy earlier this summer.
The two cadets had just completed an extensive eight-week training course after they each received $28,000 scholarships, which covered the cost of the program entirely. Upon finishing and earning their private pilot’s licenses, Molly wanted to do something that had never been done before – perform a flyover at a Guyer football game.
“Lt. Colonel [Jody] Addison said, ‘Alright, I’m telling all my buddies this is happening. You better make it happen,’” Molly recalled. “And I told him, ‘You bet it will.’ It’s crazy. I never thought we would get the opportunity to do that.”
But prior to Guyer’s home opener against Aledo on Friday, Sept. 1, both Molly and Brayden got the opportunity to turn what started as just an idea into a reality.
For nearly a month, Molly and Brayden meticulously planned out every detail of the flyover, from calculating their flight path to timing the flyover perfectly with when the choir finished the National Anthem. When it was finally time for takeoff, Brayden was at the controls piloting the Cessna 172 with Molly by his side on the radio coordinating with school officials down below.
“The actual flying aspect I wasn’t too nervous for,” Brayden said. “I was more nervous about hitting the right spot at the right time. The timing was huge. Molly had a radio down to Lt. Colonel Addison, and he was telling us when the choir was walking out, giving us checkpoints and information. He told us they were singing and to go, so I started a timer. I had to be over the field at the one-minute mark.“
Every stage of planning, as Lt. Colonel Addison described, was done by his students.
“Our program is cadet-led and cadet-driven,” Lt. Colonel Addison said. “I’m just there to provide some guardrails. I told them I was not going to plan this or coordinate it and they would have to do all the heavy lifting. This was right before school began, and they were able to turn it around fairly quickly.”
Brayden and Molly quickly put to good use all of the skills they learned while attending one of the most prestigious flight academies in the country. Less than 350 cadets nation-wide are chosen after a rigorous application process that includes a written exam, physical fitness test and a character evaluation.
During their eight weeks at the flight academy, Brayden and Molly learned the intricacies of how aircrafts work, the physics behind flying and how weather affects flights.
“It was definitely a good way to know if you want to go into aviation,” Brayden said. “Once you actually get behind the controls, that first solo flights typically when you say, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”
For Brayden and Molly both, that was exactly the case.
Brayden is currently in the process of applying for the United States Air Force Academy with a goal of becoming a commercial pilot. Molly, meanwhile, intends on attending Oklahoma State University with a goal of becoming an Air Force combat search and rescue helicopter pilot.
And, as far as Molly is concerned, the last few months – and her future goals – boil down to a few simple things.
“It was really chasing after a dream,” Molly said. “We just took it and ran with it. This has meant a lot. If you want to do aviation, just commit and go for it. Work hard, study hard and dream big. That’s all it takes. That’s the formula and magic equation.”