COLUMBUS, MS — South Orange and Millburn resident Elias Bikales, 15, has completed a U.S. Air Force–led program in Columbus, Miss., that offers Civil Air Patrol cadets the opportunity to train side-by-side with Air Force pilot trainees. Bikales trained with military flight simulators, pilot oxygen masks, nausea-inducing spinning machines and other high-tech equipment during the weeklong program. The program, called Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, is highly selective and included 30 cadets coming from as far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico. Bikales was one of just two participants from the Northeast.
In Civil Air Patrol, Bikales is referred to as Cadet 2nd Lt. Elias Bikales, as he has moved up in rank and become a commissioned cadet officer during his more than three years of membership. His squadron, the Curtiss-Wright Squadron, is based in the Red Cross building in Fairfield.
Separately, Bikales is now working toward a glider pilot license and hopes to begin learning to fly powered aircraft next year. He may use this summer’s training toward a career in aerospace engineering, civilian or military piloting, or other fields with an aviation focus.
Bikales’ other passion is classical music; he is a violist with the Ravina Youth Symphony, based at Columbia High School, as well as with the Millburn High School orchestral program. Bikales is a rising 10th grader at MHS, as he lives half-time in South Orange and half-time in Millburn. He is a graduate of South Orange Middle School.