CAP cadet program provides leadership experience


PIQUA — Student cadets of the Don Gentile Squadron of the Ohio Wing Civil Air Patrol learned about natural disaster protocol and practiced drills during the unit’s recent weekly meeting in the Upper Valley Career Center’s Adult Technology Building.

Major Robert Magi, of Dayton, opened the meeting with introductions, followed by Deputy Commander Richard Borgerding, of Piqua, who conducted a safety briefing.

The briefing focused on the issue of flooding and the role that CAP plays in these types of natural disasters across the country. A real-world scenario was discussed, too, as the east coast was prepping for the approach of Hurricane Florence, a Category 2 storm, which made landfall Thursday.

According to Borgerding, the CAP is often responsible for taking photos to send to FEMA in order to document flooding disasters, including flooding and destruction from these types of storms.

“FEMA will know within an hour exactly where the flood zones are,” Borgerding said. “When a disaster hits like this, we have several aircraft that will be flying grids. They take the pictures for FEMA, which will be color coded according to (the degree of damage severity).”

These photos are a step in the process of providing life-saving assistance to areas in need.

Given that Civil Air Patrol cadets have the opportunity to experience flight firsthand, a love of flying is a top reason that many young people join CAP. Aviation education is given both in the classroom and in the cockpit.

Opportunities in this area include “orientation flights,” in which cadets help their CAP volunteer pilots “preflight” an aircraft, observe takeoff procedures and handle controls while in flight. On average, cadets fly 16,000 hours in powered aircraft and 7,000 operational flights in gliders each year. Additionally, each summer, approximately 200 cadets learn to fly at CAP flight academies.

Having access to hands-on aviation experience has inspired cadets throughout the years to pursue professions as pilots, engineers, mechanics and aerospace enthusiasts. Without such opportunities provided through CAP, many of these young people may have never considered such career fields.

The Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.

Membership in the organization consists of cadets, ages 12 through 20, and senior members, age 18 years and older.

CAP’s Cadet Program is organized around four main elements, including leadership, aerospace, fitness and character.

While the Air Force provides most of CAP’s funding, cadets are not obligated to join the military. However, 10 percent of the cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy got their start in the program.

For Spencer Selhorst, cadet tech sergeant and senior at Miami East High School, the CAP Cadet Program was a way for him to gain experience in a structured military environment before going on to join the Army.

Spencer, 17, is set to graduate early in January and will leave for basic training for the Army soon after.

“From a young age, I just wanted to be a pilot for the Air Force,” Spencer said. “My mom’s cousin is in the Navy and has been for 27 years, and my cousin is in the U.S. Army; my family has served in all branches of the military.”

“(The CAP Cadet Program) is going to help me in the Army because it’s giving me the basic skills to help me learn what it’s going to be like,” he said. “I’m going to take the leadership, the growth and the responsibility I had here and take it all into the Army to try to go up through the ranks.”

Cadets of Piqua’s Don Gentile Squadron meet, on average, one night per week for two hours and meet for events one Saturday each month. During the summer, cadets have the opportunity to attend a week-long camp.

Annual dues and uniform expenses total around $100. Other fees may be required for weekend and summer events.

An open house event will be held Oct. 1 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Upper Valley Career Center Adult Technology Building, room 603, 8901 Looney Road, Piqua.

For questions, contact Robb Magi at [email protected] or by calling 937-286-6233.

By Aimee Hancock

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.

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