Seeing the Blue Angels perform was a life changing experience for one Mount Vernon Senior. Matthew Cooper says it’s that experience, at the age of four, that sparked his passion for aviation. So much so, this past summer he was selected to be Cadet Deputy Commander of the Georgia Wing Encampment held in Albany, Georgia. This summer was Matthew’s fifth year in the program, but this time he led 150 cadets.
“Every day I provided direction to my staff ensuring the schedule ran smoothly. I also held meetings with my three Squadron Commanders to share feedback and update them on changes in the plan (which occurred often because of the weather). I learned a lot about being adaptable and flexible. Overall, I was able to build on the management skills I have been developing for the past five years in the program,” shared Matthew.
At the week’s conclusion, family and friends were invited to a graduation ceremony. Each squadron and flight was introduced and awards were given. The cadets were then pronounced as having graduated from Encampment. “Leading an event as large and complex as this, was no easy task. I had to make decisions quickly and have a tough skin to withstand criticism. I learned a lot about my leadership abilities which are valuable skills no matter where my future leads.”
In addition to Matthew’s impressive experience with the Georgia Wing Encampment, he is a member of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron out of Peachtree Dekalb Airport, is on his way to earning his private pilot’s license, and earlier this year he became an Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts of America.
More of Matthew’s significant accomplishments:
- 12.5 hours – Powered flight
- Solo flight this summer in Bangor, Maine
- Glider flights – 20 flights
- Encampment – 121 basic cadets, 25 cadet staff
- 20 months – length of time as Cadet commander at Dekalb Country Cadet Squadron
- Currently Lieutenant Colonel (a rank only 2% of cadets achieve) and 1 step away from being top ranked Spaatz cadet
- 45 cadets – size of squadron increased from 19 under his Cadet Commander tenure