Magrisi flying high

Published 7:57 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nansemond River High School junior Morgan Magrisi was recently chosen out of almost 2,000 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets to participate in the Chief of Staff Flight Academy Private Pilot Scholarship Program.

Morgan, 17, has been involved in the Air Force Junior ROTC for three years.

“It was really surprising to get it. I didn’t think I would be selected,” Morgan said. “I feel special. I called my parents right after I got the news.”

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The Flight Academy Scholarship Program is an Air Force-level initiative in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address the national civilian and military pilot shortage. Those who participate in the program do not incur a military commitment to the Air Force or other branch of service, nor does completing the program guarantee acceptance into one of the military’s commissioning programs.

The program awarded scholarships, valued up to $20,000, to 150 students, and those students have the chance to attend a six- to eight-week program at one of the 11 colleges and universities partnered with the program.

“I’m surprised that the fact the scholarship is for such a large amount and I get to do this for free,” Morgan said.

Morgan had to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, be well-rounded and take an intensive test to qualify for the program.

“It was the hardest test I’ve taken,” Morgan said.

To prepare, Morgan had the chance to ask his grandfather questions, because his grandfather has been a pilot, both military and commercial. Despite aviation being in his family, he is still nervous to be the pilot of a plane.

“Besides flying (as a passenger) commercially, I’ll need some help,” Morgan said. “I am looking forward to the aspect of flying. It’ll be really fun.”

Nansemond River’s Air Force Junior ROTC instructor, Lt. Col. David Hedger, is pleased to have one of his cadets participate in the program, especially after spending more than a decade flying in the Air Force.

Three of his students applied to the program, but only Morgan was selected.

“We had three cadets apply, and all are unique students. I was hoping to see all three get it, but there was only a small number from Virginia. I was pleased to see Morgan get it.”

Morgan is nervous to get in the cockpit of a plane, but Hedger believes he’ll be successful during his time at the academy.

“I think he’ll do a great job, and he might even surprise himself,” Hedger said. “It’s a huge confidence booster.”

During his time in the program, Morgan has the opportunity to earn a private pilot’s license and up to 12 college credits.