JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
More than 10 cadets and senior members from the Virginia Wing of the Civil Air Patrol Group 4 received first-hand exposure to the aircraft and missions of the Virginia ANG, March 24, 2018, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. CAP cadets observed a launch of the F-22 Raptor, viewed static displays of the F-22 and T-38 aircrafts and observed load trainings, torn down engines and a 20 millimeter gun.
This type of tour has a “really positive impact” on the CAP cadets, said Master Sgt. Brian Penn, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. Not everyone has the opportunity to see what we do up close, and these cadets had the chance to see the weapons load team practicing their trade; they were able to get up close to the F-22, and they were able to touch and look inside of the T-38, said Penn.
The cadets received briefings about the opportunities available to them in the VaANG, such as education benefits and formal job training. The cadets also had an opportunity to converse with pilots and other various aircrew from the 192nd Fighter Wing.
“There’s a difference between seeing aviation in a movie or on your computer and coming out here on the field and actually seeing the aircraft, meeting pilots, meeting the mechanics and meeting the people that work in the ordinance,” said CAP 1st Lt. Daniel Oakey, Virginia Wing CAP Group 4 aerospace education officer. “This [tour] makes it real to them to where they can start imagining their dreams and what they want to do in life.”
The cadets were enthusiastic about getting the opportunity to see the aircraft, share their knowledge and interests when asking questions to the aircrew, and about getting to take pictures with the aircraft.
“I really liked the whole [tour],” said CAP 1st Lt. Austin Higley, CAP senior member. “I didn’t really know a whole lot about the F-22 before coming here, so learning about all of the pieces and parts that go into it, the number of people who work on it and the expense of it all was really incredible.”
“I’m sure I can speak for all of the cadets as well that we had a phenomenal time and it was a really incredible experience,” said Higley.
The Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has an aerospace education program as part of its three-fold mission. The program’s mission is to “transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders.” The program works to introduce their cadets, comprised of youth ages 12 through 18, to the professional careers available to them in aviation aerospace, and the U.S. Air Force, to include active duty as well as guard and reserve components.
According to Oakey, aviation programs are in need of additional personnel in areas such as airframe and/or powerplant mechanics, piloting, computer programming and mechanical engineering. The CAP cadet program develops the younger members to take on those types of professions in their futures.