Fargo EAA Provides Free Flights to ROTC Students In Efforts to Stop Pilot Shortage

The organization provides flights to different groups around the community four to five times a year

MOORHEAD, Minn. — School’s out and summer vacation has begun.

But for those in Fargo Public School’s Air Force ROTC program, that doesn’t mean they get a break.

It means they are taking their lessons to new heights.

It wasn’t the halls of the new school she was in or all the faces Ella Trautmann saw on her first day of freshman year that caught her eye. Instead, it was what some of her classmates were wearing.

“I saw people walking around with the sweatshirts that we have and then on the first uniform day for them, I saw those and said ‘I want to be in that,'” Trautmann said.

So Trautmann became what she was drawn by: a student of the Davies High School ROTC program. She says she has enjoyed every minute of it, including all those drill team practices starting at 6:30 a.m. to the free plane ride she received from Fargo’s Experimental Aircraft Association, no matter how much heights may scare her.

“For me it’s terrifying and I don’t like it all but being up there and looking down and seeing someone and they look like an ant, I love seeing that,” Trautmann said. “I love seeing the buildings. Seeing everything from a sky-high view is really cool and interesting.”

That’s exactly the thing members of Fargo’s EAA chapter says they like to hear. They offered the free rides to Trautmann and 43 of her Fargo Public School ROTC classmates to get them interested in aviation.

“I know personally of some people who have decided to go into aviation just from this flight. Sometimes it’s just the freedom, the freedom of flight,” said Bruce Emmel, with the Fargo EAA chapter.

Aside from helping some students find their calling, the flights are also meant to help with a pilot shortage in our country.

Some say is a result of kids not having aviation training in schools and the future isn’t looking much brighter.

“It’s going to get worse. A lot of the pilots that they’ve trained coming out of the wars, we’re not getting so many of them anymore,” Emmel said.

Trautmann says the same goes for people who join the ROTC around the country and why she says it could be life changing for those who get involved, just as it made all the difference in hers.

“Not enough people join and I wish more people would. It’s such a fun and cool opportunity to wear the uniform once a week and pretend that you’re in the military,” Trautmann said. “That’s what I love doing, the first time I wore my uniform, I was like hmm, I have a uniform.”

Less than 10 percent of students who join ROTC programs around the country go into the armed forces because the organization does not recruit members.

North Dakota was one of the first states to begin ROTC programs in the late 1960’s.

Categories: Community, Local News, Minnesota News, Moorhead, North Dakota News