Former Granite State CAP Cadet has the “right stuff” at the Air Force Academy
“I’ve wanted to fly ever since I was a little kid,” Quinlan recalled. “My dad and I were in Concord once and he took me by the Air National Guard facility. I met a pilot who took me up in a Black Hawk helicopter and I was hooked.”
At age 13 Quinlan joined the Concord Composite Squadron of New Hampshire’s Civil Air Patrol Wing. He made the most of the CAP experience and even served as cadet squadron commander.
“Civil Air Patrol definitely helped position me for the Air Force Academy opportunity,” said Quinlan.
A meteorology major at the USAFA, Quinlan pays attention to prevailing winds, which is especially important as he’s already a glider pilot. And on February 15, the Granite Stater incongruously demonstrated his flying skills to 45,000 NHL fans who filled Falcon Football Stadium for a pro hockey game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings— part of the NHL’s outdoor Stadium Series. L.A. won 3-1.
“Yes, that was a pretty cool experience,” said Quinlan. “A tow plane similar to a Piper Cub got my TG-16 glider up into the sky and then turned me loose to show the crowd what I could do.”
Quinlan glided back and forth over Falcon Stadium, eliciting oohs, ahs, and even gasps from the hockey fans with his spins, rolls, and loops. He then successfully negotiated those prevailing Rocky Mountain winds to land safely. Mission accomplished.
“Glider pilots can even fly upside down,” said Quinlan. “It’s pretty cool to see the world upside down from thousands of feet in the air in a cockpit.”
The young Granite Stater is now a fully certified Air Force glider instructor pilot.
Further flight training for Quinlan was planned for Monterrey Bay, California, later this spring. But like so many other things, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation. In fact, the Academy’s cadets were all dismissed on March 12.
“We were called to the Dining Hall,” explained Quinlan. “The superintendent told us we were all to go home. So I packed my stuff into my car and drove back to New Hampshire.”On-line classes commenced for Quinlan on March 25 as he deals with the uncertainties caused by the Corona virus. He’s hoping that things return to normal for the fall semester and a senior year that will lead to graduation and the fighter pilot school.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” said Quinlan. “Whenever I can I try to do shout-outs to those who helped me along the way. My family and friends. Civil Air Patrol. John Stark High School. So many people.”
So when Quinlan did his first high jump at John Stark Regional, he probably had no idea how high his career trajectory would take him—as still climbs ever higher into that fabled “wild blue yonder!”
Mike Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI- Concord. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.