DVIDS – News – Virginia Soldier Offers Free Aviation Training to Deployed Military

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — The cost of obtaining a pilot’s license can range between $4,000 and $15,000, depending on location, type of aircraft used, instructor experience and pace of flight. student learning. U.S. Army Sgt. Courtney Yerger knows all too well the financial difficulties that come with becoming a civilian aviator.

A Virginia National Guard soldier, Yerger uses his civilian expertise to save soldiers hundreds of dollars by offering them a free aviation program during his downtime while deployed to Kosovo.

Currently based at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo as a Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst with the VaANG 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for NATO Kosovo Force, Yerger spends his Tuesdays evenings to help soldiers pursue their interests in the air force by offering a free program.

Concurrently, she is also applying to become an Army Warrant Officer, with aspirations of one day becoming the Virginia National Guard’s first female UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flight instructor.

As a child, Yerger was always fascinated by the idea of ​​space. She was determined to get as close to space as possible by exploring the sky. To achieve his goal, his initial aspirations were to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But due to the demanding entry requirements, she was not accepted.

However, this did not cause Yerger to lose faith in her aviation dreams, as she was later accepted to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she attended aeronautical school.

“Having not studied aeronautics before, with no aviation background or training, I showed up and had no idea what was going on,” Yerger said. “But once I started doing it, I really enjoyed it and now I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

But her journey to becoming an aviator was not smooth and came with many challenges.

“In my second year, I had to drop out of college for financial reasons,” she said. “I left Liberty, came home, and ended up enlisting in the National Guard.”

After completing basic combat training, Yerger returned to Liberty University for her junior year. After graduating, she received a commercial pilot certificate and two flight instructor certificates.

However, Yerger then faced another familiar struggle – COVID-19, which left the aviation industry in dismay.

“I ended up graduating in 2020, the year of COVID, and I needed to find a job and accommodation quickly,” she said.

It was then that because of her qualifications, Liberty University offered Yerger a job as a flight instructor.

“The funny thing is growing up when people were like ‘what would you never want to do?’ I would say ‘be a teacher,’” she said with a laugh. “Because when I thought of being a teacher, I thought of being in front of a classroom and bringing homework to class.”

She accepted the job anyway and started teaching. To his surprise, the job was anything but traditional.

“I was like, ‘Oh! That’s a lot more fun than I thought,'” she said. I explained to them.”

Yerger said she likes to tailor her teaching method to the needs of each student.

“I love finding out how each student learns differently and adapting my teaching style to that,” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”

She explained that since deploying to Kosovo earlier this year, dozens of soldiers have asked her to host a class on an aviation ground course.

“When I had the meeting of interest to determine if this was actually something the soldiers would be interested in doing, about forty-three people showed up,” she said. “So I was like ‘Okay, there’s definitely an interest here. “”

Many Yerger students travel about an hour from other camps in Kosovo every Tuesday after the service day at Camp Bondsteel in order to attend his class.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Benjamin Askins, a medical assistant assigned to Kentucky National Guard Headquarters and Central Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, travels from Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo, to attend each week.

“It was something on my bucket list for a while, but I never had the opportunity or the money to pursue it before,” Askins said. “When I found out there was an option to attend the course, combined with the free price, it was just perfect.”

One of the first requirements for obtaining a private pilot certificate is to be approved by a flight instructor and pass a knowledge test, which can cost up to $400 in the civilian sector, which Yerger offers free to her students, she said.

Soldiers who complete Yerger’s class in its entirety will receive his endorsement and will then be eligible to take the knowledge test.

“The goal of the class is that if they show up, do the work, and show me they’ve put in the effort, then I can endorse them,” she said. “Then they can take the test and go through those steps before they go to a flight school and start learning the flying part.”

Yerger’s class benefits not only the soldiers she teaches, but also her by keeping her up to date with her knowledge and preparing lessons.

“The students here keep me up to date with knowledge by asking questions and engaging,” she explained. “In many ways they teach me with their perspectives, their understandings and with what they bring to the table as well.”

Yerger said being an aviator means you never stop learning.

“There’s never a point of complacency,” she said. “Aviation is a profession where you continue to hone your skills.”

She hopes her knowledge and understanding of aviation regulations and standard operating procedures will give her an advantage when applying to become a warrant officer.

“If you’re in a fixed wing versus a helicopter, the aerodynamic principles don’t change,” Yerger said. “If my warrant officer file is accepted, I will go to flight school for Black Hawks.”

His goal is to follow the path of instructor pilot warrant officer, which could take up to two years if accepted.

“I know Virginia hasn’t had any female instructor pilots in the Guard yet, so that’s something I’d like to address,” she said. “But until then, I plan to return to training at Liberty after deployment.”

Her favorite part of being an aviator is no longer the amazing aerial views or controlling an airplane; it’s being a flight instructor and spending time with your students, whether in the air or on the ground, while helping them achieve their goals.

Date taken: 13.06.2022
Date posted: 13.06.2022 02:39
Story ID: 422763

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