Local glider student aiming to be Air Force pilot

Cameron Strawmier, 16, of Yuba City, is a glider pilot student at Williams Soaring Center.


Extra curricular activities such as clubs and sports teams can be a big part of a student's high school years. For 16-year-old Cameron Strawmier, some of his time spent outside of school is spent gliding through the air.

Strawmier, of Yuba City, is a junior at Sutter Union High School and a glider pilot student at Williams Soaring Center. Strawmier calls himself an "adrenaline junkie" who enjoys the feeling of turbulence and a controlled free fall.

"It's really cool," Strawmier said. "It feels like you're floating and not moving anywhere."

He started gliding about five months ago and has lessons at the soaring center one or two times a month. Each lesson is a couple hours long and includes a meeting with his instructor where they talk about what the flight will include and then the flight itself.

"I wasn't expecting to be able to land and take off within a few lessons," Strawmier said.

Strawmier has learned how to use the glider's equipment, GPS, how to read the altimeter, and practiced turns and stalls. He said a glider has everything that a normal aircraft would have except a motor.

"It's so quiet," Strawmier said.

He plans to enlist with the Air Force force when he graduates from high school with the goal of becoming a pilot. As part of pilot training, learning how to fly a glider is required.

"I'll already have this in the bag," Strawmier said.

Strawmier said he wishes he could have flown the now decommissioned SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.

"I've been wanting to fly since I was little," Strawmier said.

Learning to fly a glider is not the only extra curricular he is a part of. For the last six years, Strawmier has been part of the United States Naval Sea Cadets-Matthew Axelson Division based in Yuba City. He started when he was 10 years old and is now in the Cadet Division as a Petty Officer Second Class.

Strawmier the group is made up of about 20-25 people that meet up once a month. They do a lot of community service and Strawmier estimated he's done a total of 380 hours of community service since being involved with the Sea Cadets.

His favorite volunteering opportunity was helping out a golf tournament in Nevada put on by Axelson's family. Axelson was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005 and was killed in action on June 28, 2005. He is buried in Chico.

In 2019, Strawmier submitted an essay to Southwest Airlines in order to be sponsored to visit the company's headquarters in Dallas. He was selected and spent three days in Dallas.

"I got to see parts of the headquarters that most don’t get to go into," Strawmier said.

One of the highlights was getting time in a $30 million airline simulator. Strawmier said he was able to land a Southwest airliner on the simulator.

Strawmier applied for several scholarships over the summer to help with his glider lessons and received the Michael Wallace Memorial Scholarship, according to his mom Valerie Strawmier.

For more information about the Williams Soaring Center, visit williamssoaring.com.

Recommended for you