Opportunities for Middle/High School Children at Civil Air Patrol

By Kollengode S Venkataraman

For Quality Early Child Care in Murrysville/Plum

How many of you have heard of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and their activities across the nation? Maybe a few. And among school-going children focused on their curricular activities, even less. 

Civil Air Patrol, an organization of citizen airmen, was formed in 1941 during the early days of World War II, committed to volunteer services to America. Focused to mobilize the nation’s civilian aviation resources for national defense during WW II,  CAP has evolved over the last several decades into a premier public service organization that still carries out emergency service missions, when needed, in the air and on the ground, and much more.

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As an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP is there to “search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe.” Its tens of thousands of volunteers scattered across the nation devote their time, energy, and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while promoting aviation-related fields through aerospace/STEM programs and helping shape future leaders through its cadet program.

Civil Air Patrol plane with the trainer pilot and trainees.

CAP volunteers serve America’s communities, save lives, and help shape the future with its core values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect. CAP’s programs on Aerospace  Education, Cadet Services and Emergency Services, are funded by the US Air Force and the local chapters’ fundraising activities.

In August, I went to a weekly meeting of CAP Squadron 602 held at the Baldwin High School close to the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin.  The Squadron 602 of CAP is located at the Allegheny County Airport (airport code AGC) in West Mifflin.

A cadet with the CAP plane.

Incidentally, AGC, a fully functional airport within the city limits of Pittsburgh, has a long and unique history. Built in 1931, it was the third largest airport in the nation with hard-surface runway, decades before the Pittsburgh International Airport came into being. More details here: www.tinyurl.com/AGC-Airport-Pittsburgh and here: www.flypittsburgh.com/allegheny-county-airport.  

The classes at Baldwin High were conducted under the guidance of Major Naor Wallach (e-mail address here) , Pennsylvania Director of Recruiting and Retention of CAP’s Squadron 602. The module they showed was on how they solved the problem when an oxygen tank in the capsule exploded in NASA’s Apollo 13 mission’s near-disaster moon mission. NASA’s ground control folks in Houston struggled against all odds to remotely instruct the astronauts in the orbiter floating 200,000 miles above earth to fix the problem with the very limited resources in the capsule.  

After initiating a new member into the program.

The CAP program is open to all middle and high school students who are either US citizens or legal immigrants (Green Card holders) for a nominal fee of $40 per year. A team of over 1500 volunteers, who have their own full-time jobs as USAF staff, railroad consultants, graduate students in universities, and others run the program nationwide. 

They meet weekly completing different training modules that focus on developing leadership skills and skills to work in teams (sometimes leading sometimes following), ER services, aerospace/STEM education, physical fitness, and character building. In programs with school kids as the trainees, they use real life examples of how crises unfold — many of them one of a kind happening for the first time. The students are shown examples of how to form teams with the required skills and temperament, how to brainstorm the issues to define the scope, and how to assign priorities and assess progress and performance, and how to make changes in the approach as the situation dynamically changes.

Major Naor Wallach at the podium.

For middle and high school students, programs in the Civil Air Patrol offer great opportunities to acquire skills on how to lead and take part in teams to accomplish any set goals, how to communicate clearly and precisely with peers and seniors in any organization. And the training they get in their formative years may even open opportunities for them in ROTC programs in the US Air Force, commercial flying, Medevac flights, or aeronautical engineering in universities. For more information, visit GoCivilAirPatrol.com or contact Major Naor Wallach (e-mail address here).


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