10/08/08 — Local teen pursues his dream of flying, wins award

View Archive

Local teen pursues his dream of flying, wins award

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 8, 2008 1:46 PM

Scott Cronin

Scott Cronin says he has "a plan," a course he hopes to follow toward his dream.

In reality, the young man has two or three.

But each has the same final destination.

Scott would like to join the Air Force like his father, John, maybe fly cargo planes out of a particular base in Germany he "loves."

But the truth is, it's not about the rank or the uniform.

So if he fails to make it into the Air Force Academy or pilot training, he will just chase the skies via "Plan B."

"If I don't make it into the Air Force, I'll go commercial. Just as long as I'm up in the air," Scott said. "Basically, if I am flying, I am happy."

Maybe that is why the young man was the first member of Goldsboro's Civil Air Patrol squadron in "quite some time" to reach the rank of cadet 2nd lieutenant.

"He's committed," said Tony Overman, squadron public affairs officer. "He just wants to fly that badly."

But for Scott, it was not watching F-15E Strike Eagles rip through the Wayne County clouds that drew him to flight.

They are "nice planes," he said, but getting in the cockpit of a glider and then a Cessna 172 was simply a product of curiosity.

"It started off with me just wanting to find out what flying was like," the 15-year-old said.

So he joined the Civil Air Patrol, an organization he said teaches 12- to 20-year-olds about aerospace and leadership -- and gives them a shot at the skies.

Scott took his first solo glider flight at 14.

"That was great," he said. "But I didn't get to do anything until I was in the air."

Then, at Glider Academy, he logged a few more hours.

He was starting to get the hang of it.

Still, it was not until a particular trip down the Tar River that he "made up his mind." He was going to be a pilot one day.

From the cockpit of a Cessna, his instructor pointed out what looked, to Scott, like an ant.

When he realized that is was, in fact, a dump truck, he finally got a glimpse of the "totally different" perspective a few thousand feet above the ground.

And it fascinated him.

"I've seen pictures of those things. They are humongous," Scott said. "From the plane, it just looked like a little dot. That is when I realized just how far up I was."

His mother, Trish, supports her son's dream.

Even if joining the military means her son might have to deploy to a war zone when he gets there.

"If that is what he wants to do, I am all for it," she said. "I'll stay on the ground and give him a big hug when he comes back."

But even in those moments -- ones Scott knows might or might not play out someday -- he knows one thing for sure.

Wherever he lands, it will always be with his thoughts focused skyward.

"If I had the time and the money, I would fly all the time," Scott said. "But you know, gas prices hit everybody. Even pilots."