Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Alexandria Devlin
Located on Illinois Route 16, Coles County Memorial Airport boasts not only an impressive steakhouse but, every summer, one of the most known glider academies throughout the nation. The Civil Air Patrol National Glider Academy aims to promote aviation and leadership skills to youth from across the United States.
Activity Director Mike Murrell was a glider cadet himself in 1964.
Murrell’s love for the program drew him into coming back to the camp and giving back. Cadets travel to Mattoon from all around the United States. From Alaska to Michigan, cadets attend the National Glider Academy in hopes of increasing aviation skills, knowledge and to also meet friends from around the nation. From day one to day 10, Murrell and other staff members collaborate with the cadets in order for each of them to ultimately fly solo in a glider.
“Staff members come from all around the nation and willingly give up their money, time and vacation to help cadets,” according to Murrell.
Nina Rossini, the deputy commander at the academy, was also a cadet.
Ken Voyticky, another staff member, has been with Civil Air Patrol for 52 years. He also started as a cadet and connected with the virtues the academy requires, which are intelligence, motivation and energy. Voyticky states, “Watching the cadets get out of the glider with a smile on their face is my paycheck.”
Cadets not only enjoy being able to learn to fly gliders, but they appreciate their instructors. Alexis Cerise, a cadet from Lexington, Ky., has always been interested in aviation and aims to enter the Air Force Academy.
Cerise says, “Our instructors are patient and kind. They have helped us quite a bit.” Ethan Mullerr, another cadet from Louisville, Ky., agrees with Cerise, but adds, “Our instructors are great and very knowledgeable.”
Throughout the 10-day glider academy, cadets are introduced to gliders, but are also dedicated to the program. Through a staff of highly experienced and committed instructors, cadets are encouraged to reach their full potential. The Civil Air Patrol National Glider Academy does not only boast a group of national cadets, but also staff members who feel that giving back is the best thing for them to do.