Incline boys take to the sky in solo glider mission |

Incline boys take to the sky in solo glider mission

Special to the Bonanza

Civil Air Patrol Cadets Cole Powell and William Strotz recently soloed in the Minden Squadron’s Blanik glider at the age of 14 — the minimum age allowed under FAA regulation.

Both young aviation enthusiasts have been friends since they were toddlers and each began their flying pursuits at different locations.

Cole received his flights and instruction beginning at age 13 with the Youth Soaring Academy in Minden, and worked as a “line boy” at Soaring NV.

William worked as a “line boy” at Soar Truckee, beginning his soaring instruction at age 12.

William’s father, Eric Strotz, who is a Senior Member of the CAP Squadron and a B-777 Captain at United Airlines, was on hand to see the flight and watch his son make, according to William’s CAP instructor Captain Michael Mitton, “a perfect landing.”

William plans to study aviation at Southern Illinois University or at his Father’s alma mater, Purdue University.

Cole’s father Brad Powell, who is also a CAP Senior Member, a B-737 Captain at United Airlines, and a former F-15 Combat Pilot, was the tow pilot for Cole’s first solo glider flight.

Brad admits that this was the “ultimate father-son bonding experience,” and “I couldn’t be prouder.”

Cole’s instructor, Captain Fred LaSor said, “It’s always a thrill sending a young pilot to experience the excitement and unique experience of solo flight.”

Cole intends to study aviation at the US Air Force Academy and become a USAF Fighter Pilot.

Eric Strotz said most parents are not aware that to pursue a career as a professional pilot, it’s essential to start flying as early as possible.

William’s instructor, Michael Mitton, believes learning to fly a glider is the best way to develop the critical stick and rudder skills that will not only make them better pilots, but will be helpful throughout their entire flying career.

A certified flight instructor must supervise subsequent flights until students become eligible to test for their private pilot glider certificate at the age of 16.

Cole and William plan to continue their training in powered aircraft with the Douglas County Composite Squadron, intending to solo a powered airplane on their 16th birthdays.

They are Soaring Society of America Members and have received their “A” badge for their first solo flight.

The Nevada Wing of the CAP has a highly accessible and active glider program that is open to all.

They provide Glider and Powered orientation flights and instruction to members using both ground and aerial glider launch methods.

The Douglas County Composite Squadron CAP has both senior and cadet members. They are volunteers for America in emergency services such as search and rescue, disaster relief, and aerospace education.

Cadets can join the squadron as early as the age of 12, and each cadet has the opportunity to take five glider and five powered aircraft orientation flights, after which they may take instruction from highly qualified CAP instructor pilots.

If you are interested in learning more about the Civil Air Patrol or the Douglas County Composite Squadron, visit or contact Squadron Commander Dale Brown at 775-690-0072.

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