Phoenix teen chosen for elite Naval flight training program

It's Something Good for Thursday as a Valley teen is selected for a special Navy program.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 9:48 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Phoenix teen will start her senior year in a couple of months, and she’ll be flying high! Xitlali Vazquez is training right now to get her private pilot’s license. It’s a dream come true for Vasquez, who wants to be a pilot in the air force and that is Something Good!

She is one of just 20 high-performing students chosen for an elite program sponsored by the Navy. So while most of her classmates at Greenway High School in Phoenix are taking it easy during summer break, Vasquez is at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina for the U.S. Navy Summer Flight Academy Aviation Training Program.

After eight weeks of intense training, she’ll get her FAA Private Pilot’s license! The program was established in 2021 by Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF), to increase diversity in Naval aviation. The Navy partners with select universities throughout the country to provide flight training to the participating students. The program’s cost is approximately $24,000 per student, but it is offered at zero cost to students with no obligations under those partnerships. Upon completing the program, each student earns a private pilot certification/license and five college credits.

The Department of the Navy sponsors the Summer Flight Academy program for students participating in the Navy and Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. The program is a new STEM initiative that the Naval STEM Coordination Office selected for funding, located at the Office of Naval Research, overseeing investments in STEM education, outreach, and workforce initiatives.

“The goal of the scholarship program is to expose exceptional minority students to a career path that currently lacks diversity,” says Commander Chris “Frozone” Williams, a Navy fighter pilot, instructor, and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Commander, Naval Air Forces. “Xitlali Vazquez has what it takes to be a leader in the field of aviation, and the Navy is honored to play a part in her personal and professional journey.”

Vazquez participates in NJROTC, Youth Alive, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also competes in track and field and basketball. During the eight-week Summer Flight Academy, she will receive a minimum of 32 hours of classroom aviation academics and 49 hours of flight training in a Vulcanair V.10 single-engine aircraft or Piper Warrior (PA-28). As part of the certification process, Vazquez will be required to complete 17 hours of solo flights.

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Go to the Something Good section on our website or email Tess Rafols at