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