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At age 20, Chief Master Sgt. Chase Britton has more titles to his name than many achieve in a lifetime. To top it off, after taking his Federal Aviation Administration check ride, a test that determines if a candidate is a suitable pilot, he is a fresh Civil Air Patrol pilot.
When he was 12 years old, Britton, a Los Alamos native, got his first taste of piloting through the CAP, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Though he took a large break in between his first flight and the time he started pursuing his pilot’s license, the passion was always there. In 2011, when Britton was 18 years old, he began taking flying lessons.
Acquiring a pilot’s license is no easy task, yet Britton described it as an overall pleasurable experience. Prior to the FAA check ride, he was required to take part in 45 hours in the air of which 10 were solo hours, and hundreds of hours on the ground, reading a thick aviation manual and attending classes. Before being able to take the hands-on test, he took a theory test of 60 questions, which was based on lectures, as well as textbook material.
During the flight test, Britton remembers being focused. “It seemed like another flight lesson,” he said. In fact, when it comes to this young man, his humbleness and composure are two key traits, and he never refers to anything as being difficult or impossible. In order to cover the expenses of his flight training, Britton was willing to work long hours, doing everything from landscaping to hauling scrap metal — everything and anything he could get his hands on.
Aside from working and flying, Britton is also dedicated to his education. Until college, he was homeschooled, and then he decided to attend UNM-LA and get some basic classes out of the way. This fall, he will be attending Central New Mexico Community College to study aircraft maintenance, a program which opens up every two years. The year he spent at UNM-LA was a productive use of time while he waited for the aircraft maintenance program to open up.
Britton’s commitment to education is evident not only through his college endeavors, but also all of the tests he’s gone through in order to achieve the highest non-commanding officer rank possible. There are a total of four promotion tests, all of which are challenging in different ways. Each time, one must show leadership skills, book theory knowledge, as well as skills such as marching and prime physical health. As the rank increases, so does the level of difficulty of the tests.
In the future, Britton hopes to join the military, and work in Special Forces. With flying, he was partially inspired by his father, who for medical reasons was never able to complete training and get his license. The military, however, is something no immediate family member has tackled before.
For everyone who wants to pursue such a career, Britton advises finding a local squadron. CAP is an easy organization to join, with the application consisting of basic personal information and no really difficult questions. What new members need to do in order to succeed is simply to work hard, be involved, and keep an eye out for the classes being offered. Currently, he is waiting on a CPR class, which will bring him one step closer to getting certified in search and rescue.
Overall, Britton is somewhat of a rarity nowadays — an incredibly humble, polite, hardworking young adult who is paving his way up through his own will and work. He is also just a regular guy who enjoys being in the outdoors, fishing, mechanical work and four-wheeling. In the future, he would like to try extreme sports such as skydiving and bungee jumping.