Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student Jackson Wieland has been interested in flying as long as he can remember. The 2016 third quarter winner in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s "Learn & Earn Safety Challenge" became immersed in aviation while living near the U.S. Air Force Academy, which his father attended in the 1990s.
His dad would point out different aircraft flying over their house, “and he would explain to me how they worked and what they did.”
“I got my ground training with an outstanding organization in Colorado Springs called AEFCO (Aviation Education Foundation of Colorado, Inc.). AEFCO is truly an amazing program and opportunity for high school students in the area. They give free ground school to classes of 25 students a year, and pay for flight training of the higher-performing students, as well as mentoring them on all of the different tracks they can take with a flying career and helping the students get there.
“I currently attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where I study Aeronautical Science with a military pilot specialty. The school is the reason that I won the Garmin GDL-39 in the first place. For my instrument pilot class, AS 221, we are required to complete AOPA courses as part of our supplementary education. The class as a whole started doing more AOPA courses on their own time when they found out that amazing prizes could be won for completing the courses.
“In addition to my studies, I am a Midshipmen 4/C in the ERAU NROTCU, United States Naval Reserve. The desire to serve my country has always been one of the most prominent forces that has shaped my life and given me motivation to excel in what I do in order to get where I am today.”