CCA student aims for career flight path

Flexible schedule allows Ross Clements of Adams County to pursue his love of flying airplanes.

The open sky has always beckoned Ross Clements. From the clouds and the birds to the sun beaming down its rays, the sky has everything Ross could ever want.

“It’s freedom,” said Ross, a CCA eighth-grader. “It’s an awesome feeling to go up in the air.”

That feeling was his alone July 30, a mere two days after his 14th birthday, when Ross completed his first solo flight. The trip in a Schweizer SGS 2-33 training glider lasted approximately 20 minutes.

As Ross soared through the skies, his mother, Jane, and father, Joe, watched from the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association, of which Ross is a member, not far from the family home in Fairfield, Adams County.

“If it had been anyone else, I would have been nervous,” Jane said about watching her son travel through the air. “But he lives and breathes flying … and is more than capable of doing it.”

Jane said CCA has allowed Ross the flexibility to take off on his flight path. MASA had a contest that ran Monday through Sunday, and Ross worked his lessons around the contest. Some days, that meant getting up at 5 a.m. to complete lessons. Others, it meant completing two days of lessons in one day.

“We love the flexibility,” Jane said. “The teachers are so supportive and are able to cater to each child’s individuality.”

Flying has been with Ross since an early age, Jane said. Joe has an interest in flying ultralights, recreational aircraft that have one seat and weigh less than 254 pounds. When he was younger, Ross would watch planes take off, desiring to be the one in the pilot’s seat.

Jane and Joe would make paper airplanes for Ross and throw them. As he grew, he learned how to pick them up and throw them himself — but not before making a few changes.

“He wasn’t even 3, and he was modifying the planes we were making for him to see what could be done to make them fly longer or farther,” Jane said.

Ross’ love of flight was solidified when he was approximately 4. He received a plastic foam airplane toy from an airshow. “I flew that thing until it ended up being too heavy from the tape and glue used to fix it. That’s where it all started.”

The love of flight forged a strong bond between father and son. Joe and Ross travel around the mid- and south Atlantic to fly model airplanes.

“It’s nice to be able to talk to someone about something other than just the latest movie,” Ross said.

In addition to his MASA membership, Ross is a Boy Scout and a member of the East Coast Indoor Modelers. He has a spot on the World Air Sports Federation USA indoor model aircraft team as a junior member.

“He eats, sleeps and breathes planes,” Jane said. “He’s definitely going to fly for a living.”


Middle School Learner