Sugar Valley cadet makes first solo glider flight in New Mexico

Published 10:51 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

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By 1st Lt. Deborah Leighton

For the Enterprise

Civil Air Patrol cadets have amazing opportunities in the summer to attend National Cadet Special Activities.

As young leaders, cadets can try out potential career interests and explore new areas. Sugar Valley Composite Squadron’s C/2d Lt. Levi Gragg earned a place at the Southwest Region National Glider Flight Academy in Clovis, N.M. This 10-day experience enhanced his goals in aviation.

Gragg’s interest in aviation began early and he joined the squadron when he was 12. He started taking flying lessons at Sugar Valley Airport when he was 14, accumulating 25 hours of powered flight time, as well as 3 Cadet Orientation flights with Capt Sandra Smith.

He joined other cadets in Clovis with flight experience and a goal to solo in a glider.

“We woke up at 0400 every morning and were at Portales Municipal Airport by 0500–0530,” he said. “We then spent all morning, and much of each afternoon, flying until the density altitude reached too high a mark to continue safely flying. We were there for 10 days. By the eighth day the first solo cadets went up, including myself.

“After that morning we finished the last sign-off we needed – simulated rope breaks. While there were bumps along the way, the overall outcome was a good one and I would give anything to go back. Unbreakable friendships were made among the cadets there, which tells you just how closely we had to work together and support each other in our journey.”

Gragg brought back new skills, but also friendships to build on and a confidence in his passion for aviation. Now he can share this with other squadron members as well as the community he is a part of. His plan is to continue his soaring and work toward his glider rating at Bahnson Field (43NC) with the Piedmont Soaring Society. He hopes to obtain his glider rating on his 16th birthday in March of 2023.

For more information about Civil Air Patrol and what cadets experience weekly, visit on Tuesday evenings 6:30- 8:30 at Sugar Valley Airport, 249 Gilbert Road in Mocksville.