Damon Benson is simply a 17-year-old finishing retired his elder twelvemonth astatine Eagle’s Landing High School successful McDonough, Georgia who took clip during the summertime to implicit an intensive eight-week aviation programme alternatively than bent retired with friends.
Completing the program, Benson earned his backstage pilot’s license.
Benson attended a summertime formation academy astatine Delaware State University. The JROTC programme is usually tally by the Airforce, yet this was the archetypal twelvemonth that the Navy participated.
Other participants successful the programme worked connected their applications and had to person them turned successful the November anterior for information of the summertime course. Benson was presented with the accidental by chance.
He reached retired to Morehouse College and asked for proposal connected however to amended his chances astatine being accepted into the NROTC programme adjacent fall. He was enactment successful interaction with Carlos Nelson, who fto him cognize 2 weeks earlier the formation academy began that determination was a slot disposable and that the Navy would wage his way.
“I had ne'er heard of [anything] similar this,” Benson said. “I’m 17, it was crazy. I was similar ‘Tell maine what I person to do, and I’ll marque definite I’ll get it done’.”
The adjacent day, Benson was admitted into the aviation school. Although helium was excited to participate, it was a situation to get each of the due paperwork successful on-time. He besides had to person a formation aesculapian done, which tin beryllium conducted lone by specialized doctors.
“Everybody that flies, hose pilots, everybody that flies, has to spell done those aforesaid doctors,” Benson said. “So the docket for those [get] backed up.”
Once helium made it to Delaware State University, Benson was met with 16-hour agelong days filled with acquisition and flying time.
“I would aftermath up astatine 6:30, and past we had to beryllium to meal by 7 o’clock, and by 8 o’clock we had to beryllium astatine the formation line, acceptable to fly,” Benson said.
Before joining the summertime program, Benson did not person anterior formation experience. He was tense his archetypal clip flying, but had a earthy endowment that amazed his teacher with the assistance of a video game.
He noticed that the controls and maneuvers successful the Vulcaneer V.10 and Grand Theft Auto (GTA) were similar.
“It’s comic due to the fact that playing GTA and flying, I wouldn’t accidental it’s precisely the same. It was benignant of applicable to flying successful person,” Benson said.
The participants spent their clip learning and studying Monday done Saturday, with Sunday being a time disconnected to rest. On the time for rest, Benson spent his Sundays studying truthful helium wouldn’t autumn behind.
Benson was among the youngest retired of the radical and 1 of the fewer without immoderate acquisition successful aviation, but was the archetypal retired of the six who went into the programme connected behalf of the Navy to graduate.
Now, backmost successful high-school arsenic a licensed backstage pilot, Benson focuses connected moving astatine Chick-fil-a to money flying clip and assemblage applications for adjacent year.
His apical prime is Morehouse and helium plans connected applying to Savannah State University, Clark Atlanta University and Southern University. After college, Benson plans connected commissioning into the Navy arsenic an serviceman earlier going into aviation to alert either a F-35, F/A-18 Hornet oregon P-8 Poseidon.