Skip to main content

DSU Hosts US Air Force JROTC Flight Academy Summer Program for 3rd Consecutive Year

Brigadier General Edward H. Evans addresses cadets during Friday’s JROTC graduation ceremony.

CLEVELAND, Miss. — For the 3rd consecutive year, Delta State University continued its role as the host institution for the United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Flight Academy summer program. This 8-week intensive program brings together cadets from across the country, immersing them in a comprehensive curriculum that leads to the attainment of their private pilot license. The program began June 4 and concluded with graduation on July 28.

Shaun Kelly, Department of Commercial Aviation Instructor and coach of the Flying Okra Flight Team said, “The participants of the 2023 AFJROTC Flight Academy at DSU are an exceptional group of individuals. They represent the top from their respective schools and the work shows.”

The stated objective of the academy is to inspire and encourage young individuals to pursue careers in aviation. In light of the ongoing shortage of pilots, the program plays a vital role in introducing young people to the aviation industry, particularly piloting. DSU is one of twenty-four institutions nationwide selected to deliver this program to aspiring aviators this summer.

Kelly said, “This program is intensive but achievable. Their hard work and dedication towards earning their private pilot license was seen day in and day out as they worked closer towards their goal.”

In the program’s first 4 years, 618 cadets have been trained and awarded a Private Pilot Certification (PPC) upon successful completion of ground school, a solo flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) written exam, and a final check ride. According to the United States Air Force, cadets who participate in this program fly an average of 55 hours in 8 weeks while also earning college credits. The academy cadets have a 78% success rate earning their PPC when compared to 20% nationally for similar aviation programs.

At the graduation ceremony, held at the Gin in Cleveland, the cadets were addressed by Brigadier General Edward H. Evans, Jr., Chief of Staff for the Mississippi Air National Guard. He said, “When you come here, you have the opportunity to get in the equipment, to learn the skill set it takes to earn a private pilot license. The aviation business is so big, even if you’re not flying, there are so many jobs that are associated with it. It is great exposure to the industry as a whole. I am happy to be here, and happy to meet these students.”

“All of this cannot be achieved without the hard work and dedication of the entire Commercial Aviation Department at Delta State University,” said Kelly. “With the hard work from the faculty, staff, and administration, the participants in the academy will be able to earn their private pilot’s license in a safe and exceptional learning environment.”

The cadets participating in the summer program at DSU hail from various regions of the country, showcasing the program’s national reach and impact.

United States Air Force JROTC Cadets:

Cadet A. Bell from Dover, Del.

Cadet J. Collins from Mars, Pa.

Cadet K. Crider from Marietta, Ga.

Cadet C. Hawkins from St. Clair, Mo.

Cadet E. Hewes from California City, Calif.

Cadet R. Hise from Simi Valley, Calif.

Cadet Y. Jia from Lake Elsinore, Calif.

Cadet E. Lopez from Winter Garden, Fla.

Cadet B. McAnerney from Glendale, Ariz.

Cadet M. Weber from Rocklin, Calif.

United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training (ROTC) Cadets:

Cadet B. Estacio from Stamford, Conn.

Cadet S. Strejc from Erie, Colo.

United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Cadet:

Cadet B. Shanks from Rogersville, Tenn.

In addition to these 13 cadets, 2 civilian students who have just enrolled in Delta State University have joined the Flight Academy, demonstrating the widespread interest and enthusiasm for aviation:

A. Hertzog from Senatobia, Miss.

V. Morgan from Harrisburg, Ark.

Delta State University is committed to providing a comprehensive and enriching experience for all participants, fostering a passion for aviation and equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the field.

For more information about the United States Air Force JROTC Flight Academy summer program at Delta State University, please contact Brad MacNealy at

For more information about the United States Air Force JROTC Flight Academy summer program visit