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Civil Air Patrol cadets get taste of pilot training
A cadet in the Civil Air Patrol gets his picture taken by a fellow student after trying on a flight helmet at aerospace physiology during a CAP summer program at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, June 12, 2012. The CAP cadets are spending a week at Laughlin in a training program designed to show the cadets what Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training is like. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nathan Maysonet)
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Civil Air Patrol cadets get taste of pilot training

Posted 6/14/2012   Updated 6/14/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Nathan Maysonet
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

6/14/2012 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Laughlin hosted 30 Civil Air Patrol cadets from more than 10 states June 9 to 15 as part of a summer training program designed to showcase Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.

The familiarization course offered the cadets a look at the training phases student pilots go through during SUPT and the level of academics and skill demanded of pilots in the Air Force.

"This is a great program for getting your feet wet," said Capt. Christina Lakey, 86th Flying Training Squadron unit standardization and evaluation monitor. "We show the cadets what it is like to be a student at Laughlin and the stress and work that goes into training."

CAP was originally designed in the early years of World War II to aid in the nation's defense and served as an auxiliary unit of the Air Force. Now, the more than 60,000 member civilian volunteer force supports the nation's emergency management response, aerospace education and cadet pilot training.

"Aerospace education is a very important part of what CAP does," said Capt. Marty Sack, CAP cadet class instructor. "We play a vital role in educating Americans in all things flight and we train our people to go anywhere and do anything."

More than 300 cadets ranging in age from 12 to 21 years old applied for the chance to train at Laughlin for the summer program. The more than 10-year-old program is based on a cadet's performance, experience and leadership recommendations.

"They are not here for a one week tour of the base," said Capt. Joe Winter, Maryland Air National Guard. "They will experience all three phases of pilot training, study late into the night and work alongside pilots in briefings and flight checks. They will not just be sitting in a seat."

The condensed nature of the course means additional stress for the cadets, but even that is part of the training, said Lakey. The students are put in new and often difficult situations, such as performing a stand up in class to make them nervous and prepare them for the realities of training.

"They will leave Laughlin knowing what awaits them should they choose to follow a career in the Air Force," Sack said.

Which is what many of the cadets are set on.

"It's been a lot of hard work, but after everything I've seen, I want to be an Air Force pilot now more than ever," said Douglas Ward, a CAP cadet. "Every time I see a T-6 take off, I imagine it was me."

Regardless of whether the cadets choose to go on to serve in uniform or remain as a civilian pilot licensed member of CAP, the experiences they will take from their brief time with Team XL will help them develop professionally and carry them further ahead of their peers, said Winter.

"It was cadet summer programs like this that made me want to fly and serve in the Air Force," Lakey said "It's been fun working with the kids to motivate and encourage them and to see them looking to the future."

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