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Taking to the skies: 14-year-old Civil Air Patrol cadet takes first orientation flight

Before taking off on her first orientation flight, Civil Air Patrol Cadet Greta Lindquist, who is a ninth grader in Benson, goes over the checklist with her instructor, Major Jake Heffron from the Brainerd Composite Squadron. Lundquist is the only active cadet of the Alexandria Composite Squadron. (Contributed) 1 / 3
Greta Lundquist, a 14-year-old from Benson and a cadet in the Alexandria Composite Squadron, a Civil Air Patrol unit, flew her first orientation flight last month. Her instructor was Major Jake Heffron from the Crow Wing Composite in Brainerd. The two flew from Alexandria to Benson and back again. (Contributed) 2 / 3
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Greta Lundquist stands with her flight instructor, Major Jake Heffron, who is a senior member of the CAP unit from Brainerd. Lundquist took her first orientation flight last month and co-piloted with Heffron from Alexandria to Benson and back again. (Contributed) 3 / 3

Greta Lundquist still has a couple of years before she can legally drive, but the ninth-grader from Benson is already learning how to fly.

Lundquist, 14, is the only active cadet member of the Civil Air Patrol unit in Alexandria, and last month, she completed her first orientation flight, co-piloting a trip from Alexandria to Benson and back again.

"I really liked it," said Lundquist, who has been a cadet with the Alexandria Composite Squadron for about four months. "I thought I would be more nervous, but I wasn't once I got up there."

Lundquist got interested in flying after attending a "fly-in" breakfast in Benson. She started researching different options online to learn more about flying and aviation and said she now has plans to join the U.S. Air Force after she graduates.

Her mother, Sara Lundquist, said that her daughter came to her and said she wanted to learn how to fly. Sara remembered a friend of hers from high school who was in the Civil Air Patrol and so they starting researching it and found that the closest squadron was in Alexandria — 50 miles north from where they lived.

"She seemed passionate about it and wanted to join, so she did," said Sara Lundquist. "It was exciting to see her take her first orientation flight, although I got a little nervous because they were gone a little longer than I thought. I was surprised at how much she got to do on the flight, though."

Greta Lundquist isn't the only member of the Lundquist family who is a member of the CAP in Alexandria. Her father, Chad Lundquist, also joined and is a senior member of the Alexandria Composite Squadron. Greta Lundquist said her younger brother, 9-year-old Henry, has shown some interest and will probably join when he is 12, the minimum age for a cadet.

On her first orientation flight on Nov. 19, Lundquist flew with Major Jake Heffron, who is a senior member with the Crow Wing Composite Squadron in Brainerd and an instructor with the Civil Air Patrol.

Most of Lundquist's friends, she said, think "it is cool" that she is a CAP cadet, although she said there are a couple who also think "it is crazy weird."

"I don't think they were so sure I was going to survive my first flight," she said. "But I did and I can't wait to do it again."

Lundquist and her father attend the weekly meetings, which Sara Lundquist said is a big commitment, but is no different than if her daughter was in sports or another extra curricular activity.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

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