Following in his family’s footsteps has led Kadena High School freshman Elliot Noon from Okinawa to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The budding pilot is one of three students from Pacific Air Forces’ bases selected to attend the academy’s Teen Aviation Camp June 5-10.

Joining him are Yokota High School sophomore Jennifer Higuchi and Robert D. Edgren High School’s Nathan Reineke, whose family recently made a permanent change of station from Misawa Air Base.

The academy selected 36 students from a total of 164 applicants, said PACAF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Christina Hoggatt in an e-mail.

PACAF submitted 15 applications, Hoggatt said. A panel of three active-duty officers from the Air Force Services Agency — which sponsors the camp — made the final selections, with no set number of slots assigned to any command, Hoggatt noted.

Organizers say the program is designed to give teenagers a taste of life at the Air Force Academy. Campers room in dormitories, participate in rope and orienteering courses, study the principals of flight, meet academy professors and tour the Aerodynamics Lab, among other activities.

That’s why Noon applied for the camp: “I thought I’d be able to check it out and look at all the training they go through,” he said.

He’s contemplating a future as an aviator, a family interest reaching back to his great-grandfather, a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II. A member of Kadena’s aero club, Noon has 20 hours in a Cessna under his belt.

The camp will be an opportunity to see if the academy “is a good fit for him,” said his mom, Jean Noon.

The Air Force funds all camp costs except transportation.

While most families will be footing airfare for their teenagers, Yokota’s Higuchi gets a free ride.

This year, the base’s 374th Services Division agreed to fund transportation for any Yokota teenager selected for the camp.

“I’m getting this really great opportunity,” said Higuchi. “I was thinking about joining the Air Force so I wanted to check it out.”

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now