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Military dependant to pursue USAFA dreams at Aviation Camp

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A military dependant member of Team Goodfellow is one step closer to the wild blue yonder.

Joseph Webster, the 16-year-old son of Mark Webster of the 17th Training Support Squadron, heads off to the Air Force Youth Programs Teen Aviation Camp today.

The camp, which is held at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., is designed to give an insight into what life at the academy might be like while providing social learning experiences.

Joseph said he applied for both this camp and the USAFA Baseball Camp, which immediately follows, and was pleasantly surprised to get into both of them.

Application for the aviation camp involved an interview with Youth Center staff and a brief essay about his reasons for attending the camp and his goals for the future.

"I just wanted a chance to go to the Air Force Academy," Joseph said. "I hope this camp will help me get an idea of whether or not I really have this passion for aerospace engineering," he added.

The Central High School sophomore said he's been fascinated with aircraft since the third grade, when his family moved to Hawaii (his father, Mark, is a retired senior master sergeant). On the plane ride over, he fell in love with flight and hasn't looked back since. 

What's next for the young future aviator? He said he'll apply for the academy's summer seminar, a pre-college session to expose prospective cadets to the academic environment, physical requirements, team building and leadership skills needed for the academy's rigorous curriculum.

After that, Joseph said, he's applying to the academy - and not just the Air Force Academy, but the United States Naval Academy as well. Joseph said his goal is a degree in aerospace engineering, a dream of flight that Annapolis might fulfill if the Air Force Academy does not.

"I know they're extremely hard to get in to," he said, "but I've just got to keep my grades up and give my hardest effort to it."

If the two incredibly competitive military academies should be unable to offer him admission, Joseph added, he'll pursue his aerospace engineering degree at a civilian college or university.

His goal, he said, would be to design new aircraft. In an Air Force still looking for the next great tanker and bomber, he might well get his wish.

Joseph added that he hasn't ruled out pursuing commission through the reserve officer training corps or officer training school, but for now, his hopes are pinned firmly on the Air Force and Naval Academies.

"'Keep your nose down, work hard and have a lot of extracurriculars' is what everyone keeps telling me," Joseph said. "I've just got to give it my hardest effort."