By: Cathy Jilbert
An attendee of Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) and a James C. Ray Scholarship Recipient, Andrew Campbell has begun the path to a fruitful military career. The first time Andrew had the opportunity to fly an aircraft was during the freshmen flights offered to freshmen of CFAA every year.
“From this moment on, I was hooked...” as he describes his first flight.
This moment motivated him to apply for the James C. Ray Scholarship during his Sophomore year when he was of age to begin flight training. After being awarded the scholarship, he immediately began flight training out of a Cessna 150 at a flight school at Lakeland Linder International Airport. He officially soloed at the age of 16 in December 2017 and received his Private Pilot’s License in October 2018 at the age of 17.
While Andrew attended Central Florida Aerospace Academy, he enrolled in the Airframe and Powerplant maintenance program, where he got an internship at a local General Aviation maintenance shop at Lakeland Linder International Airport. During this time, Andrew also worked with SUN ‘n FUN to help create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Club with some of his classmates. They focused on building UAVs and competing in nationwide search and rescue competitions. Andrew had also volunteered at the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo during his time at CFAA performing jobs within Military Support, Boeing 727 Classroom tours, Ticket Sales, and was a STRATOS recipient.
After graduating from CFAA in 2019, Andrew enrolled in the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where he is currently on track to graduate in June. He currently majors in Maritime Logistics and Security and will graduate with a United States Coast Guard 3rd Mate license and a commission in the Navy Reserve. In taking a glimpse at what he does while in college, Andrew had spent one year at sea training, onboard U.S. flagged vessels where he traveled to eight countries and sailed five different vessels ranging from a containership to a Coast Guard Cutter. Outside of studies, he is on the varsity sailing team and has been for almost four years.
We asked Andrew how SUN ‘n FUN and the Aerospace Center for Excellence have impacted him. He states,
“SUN ‘n FUN and the Aerospace Center for Excellence have changed my perspective on the world and put me in the position I am today. Through SUN ‘n FUN I was given the opportunity to fly in a P-51 and a Philipps 66 aerostars Extra 300 as part of the annual fly-in. These opportunities have motivated me to continue pushing forward and put me in the position I am in today. SUN ‘n FUN gave me the confidence and experience to attend a Federal Service Academy and I would not be in the position I am today without its help. I was also awarded the Top Gun scholarship when graduating SUN ‘n FUN which helped me cover further education costs.”
Andrew also gives some simple advice for the younger generation of aerospace professionals saying, “If you are willing to work for your goals, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
His goals for the future include graduating from The United State Merchant Marine Academy this June where he will sail onboard U.S.-flagged merchant vessels as a 3rd Officer. He also would like to keep working on flight training in the future. Long-term, Andrew wants to sail as a Captain.
The mission of the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is to engage, educate, and accelerate the next generation of aerospace professionals. Andrew is a wonderful example of what SUN ‘n FUN and ACE work to accomplish. We only wish the best for Andrew in his future endeavors!