Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Climbing high

Submitted by Chief Salinas
Senior Emily Kaslik climbs out of the Piper Cherokee after a successful solo flight.

The sun rises over the horizon, casting its red and orange rays across the Broadie’s Aircraft Maintenance Center. A Piper Cherokee plane rolls down the runway, casting a long shadow down the pavement. The sound of the idling engine echoes throughout the lot.

Sitting in the pilot’s seat is senior Emily Kaslik, preparing for the most rewarding and most terrifying day of her aviation journey so far.

Looking down at the copilot seat, Kaslik is reminded of the gravity of today’s flight: the copilot’s seat is empty. 

Today, she’s entirely on her own, flying 2,000 pounds of metal through the sky at seventy miles an hour. The fear, excitement, anxiety of being in the air filled Kaslik’s mind. But she pushed it out. 

“I was nervous,” Kaslik said. “It was really daunting to do it.” 

Years of hard work all led up to today: the final test to complete her Daedalian flight training.

The Daedalian flight training allows aspiring aviators that meet strict criteria to get flight training that will jump start their aviation career. Today is the end of the entire Daedalian program, and the beginning of Kaslik’s aviation career. Barely able to sleep, Kaslik was kept wide awake the night before.

“The night before, I was frantic,” Kaslik said. “I was shivering and I couldn’t sleep.”

The flight instructor steps out of the aircraft and walks towards one of the hangars. Kaslik looks out the window. Standing on the other side of the fence is her family, friends, loved ones — everyone she cares about. Among them are her two JROTC teachers, Chief Benito Salinas and Major Andras Szucs.

The plane’s white-tipped propeller starts spinning as the aircraft accelerates forward. As Kaslik reaches 65 knots, she begins to pull up. Wheels up, and she’s in the air.

The rising sun pierces through the windshield as Kaslik rises higher and higher above the DFW countryside. The farmland around the complex and the cities and towns beyond grow smaller and smaller as she reaches for the clouds. 

For the first time,  she rises into the blue sky on her own.

Senior Emily Kaslik stands by the aircraft that she flew solo. Photo submitted by Chief Salinas


When Kaslik was younger, she knew exactly what she wanted to do after high school — join the Air Force and become a fighter jet pilot. She was inspired by all the  members of her family that were in the military.

“I’d definitely say I have a military family,” Kaslik said. “I have a brother in the navy, my dad was in the navy, so definitely a lot of military involvement.”

 As a kid, she didn’t have a path to achieving that dream. That changed when she found out about a high school class that could give her that opportunity.

“I remember in middle school, I really wanted to join the military,” Kaslik said. “So ROTC was just kind of a calling to that.”

Kaslik started her freshman year like any other new cadet: unfamiliar with the class, uncertain about the material and a bit intimidated by the learning curve. But that didn’t stop her from diligently learning.

“She absorbed what it meant to be in ROTC and how things worked,” Major Szucs said. “Instead of being in charge without really understanding how things work, she was able to learn all those things by observing from the beginning.”

Kaslik started small, working small management jobs for the cadet corp. But over time, she began to learn the ropes of the cadet corp. She learned about the chain of command, who reports to who and the jobs that the cadets have. She began to lead smaller projects for the corp.

Kaslik climbed her way up the chain of command until she was eventually promoted to the Flight Sergeant for her flight in the spring of 2021. By the end of her junior year, Kaslik had earned the role of Group Commander for the next semester. In just three years, she went from a new cadet, to the highest ranking cadet in the entire unit.

According to Szucs, Kaslik’s position as Group Commander is the equivalent to a club president.

“You’re the highest ranking Cadet, and you are responsible for all aspects of the cadet corps,” Szucs said.

Because of her accomplishments, Kaslik was accepted into the Dedalian Flight Program, which guides aspiring military aviators in their career paths. Consideration to receive it requires a GPA of at least 2.5, notable leadership achievements and no disqualifications from military flight training. 

“They go ahead and provide her training up until the point that she flies solo,” Chief Salinas said.

The training would take place over the course of three months over the summer. On August 14 2022, after her third solo landing at Broadie’s Aircraft Maintenance Center, Kaslik would complete her Daedalian flight training.


“She was involved from the very beginning, because as I recall, she was the outstanding Cadet as a freshman.” Szucs said. “And that basically is kind of an indication that she is a very involved cadet.”

We make a big deal out of driving for the first time, knowing how scary that can be at times. Imagine doing something that most folks haven’t done, piloting an aircraft all by yourself.

— Chief Salinas

Kaslik’s Piper Cherokee gradually descends at a low angle. As the landing gear makes contact with the ground, the plane slowly comes to a stop. After her last six semesters in JROTC, after years of dreaming of becoming a military fighter pilot, Kaslik has come one step closer. Her training is complete with her third flawless landing. Not with an instructor, but entirely on her own. Kaslik’s loved ones are waiting on the other side of the fence, ready to congratulate her.

“We make a big deal out of driving for the first time, knowing how scary that can be at times,” Chief Salinas said. “Imagine doing something that most folks haven’t done, piloting an aircraft all by yourself. So it’s a pretty proud moment for her to successfully complete her solo.”

Finishing her flight training was another step closer towards flying the F-22 for the Air Force. Kaslik is currently in the process of applying for the Flight Academy to earn her private pilot’s license. With a semester as the Group Commander ahead of her, along with being fully trained on flying alone, Kaslik’s senior year is a year of preparing for life after high school.

“It’s overwhelming, but in a really good way,” Kaslik said. “It’s like props for how far I’ve gone. I’m super proud of myself, and this year is gonna be really great. We’re starting it off right.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Garrison Acree, Entertainment Editor
Garrison Acree (he/him) is on his second year on staff as a junior. When he’s not banging his head against his keyboard trying to work out the bug in a website’s code or trying to use JavaScript, he’s using writing as an outlet for creation and for spreading God’s word. He hopes to branch out from writing a little and support the staff in the design and photography departments. The attitudes of women and fish towards him are too varied and complex to be accurately described in a bio.  

Comments (0)

All The Marquee Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *