CIVIL AIR PATROL
Civil Air Patrol is the best kept secret in Utah County when it comes to youth programs. My first squadron meeting was startling. As I crossed the room, every young man and woman between the age of 12 and 18 was in uniform, gave me a firm hand shake, a direct look and a “Welcome, sir.” I had been “sir’ed” more in 10 minutes than I had in 10 years. Where in the world did these kids come from? The answer: the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.
In the last four years, I have watched the 12 to 14-year-olds become 16 to 18-year-old cadets and the change in leadership, personal skills, character, and personal confidence is inspiring.
I met one of our newer cadets, Airman Danny Dever, while piloting him on his first Orientation flight where cadets get a chance to experience flying an airplane. We had a great ride flying over his home. Airman Dever had a smile across his face the whole time while flying the aircraft.
At a recent squadron meeting, Airman Dever was asked to head a discussion group on integrity. In this discussion group six cadets and two senior members were tasked to talk about integrity as it relates to being honest. I watched Airman Dever lead that discussion group like a seasoned professional. He engaged the other cadets, who were all seriously exploring the aspects of honesty, greed and how to always be honest. It was an impressive display of leadership. I don’t think any of the cadets were over the age of 16.
How does the CAP cadet program create this type of leadership and character development? Their program is based around the Air Force’s culture of customs and courtesy. CAP has a heavy focus on aerospace education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math and support it with exposure to aviation, rocketry, physical training, actual flying with CAP pilots and a week-long encampment where they eat, live and breathe this culture. They teach cadets skills such as marching, saluting and respect for leadership. If you would like your son or daughter to have these types of experiences, contact Capt. Wayne Manning, the Utah County Phantom Squadron Commander, at 801-361-2993 or Dave Baggaley at 801-889-7956.
Civil Air Patrol Cadets Airmen Otake, Dever and Willis help prepare aircraft for a training sortie.