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Local civil air patrol seeks new cadets

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

The Tahoe Truckee Civil Air Patrol Cadet program is looking for new recruits who want to be aviators.

Formed shortly after the creation of the Tahoe Truckee Airport District in 1958, the Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron consists of both senior and cadet members, with cadets ranging in age from 12 to 18.

As cadets rise through the ranks they learn leadership, but with no young fliers advanced members have no one to lead.

“We have several cadets moving up who don’t have anybody to practice leadership on,” said Robert Todd, the commander of the squadron. “We are in dire straights getting people to join.”

Charles White, Deputy Commander for the Cadet program, said the program was put on hiatus from 1990 to 1999 due to a lack of cadets, but said he will continue trying to attract new recruits.

“We are attempting to get kids to become active, and their parents as well,” White said.

With eight cadets moving up the ranks, the squadron needs eight to 10 replacements, and would like to see as many as 20, Todd said.

“I can’t say enough about this program ” it’s a tremendous program for local young people,” he said.

Cadets participate in weekly meetings, and have opportunities to learn about aerospace science, leadership, search and rescue, disaster relief and mountaineering through a variety of schools around the country.

“They are taught how to help in disaster relief programs, such as right after (Hurricane) Katrina. Civil Air Patrol cadets were instrumental in bringing in supplies and food,” Todd said.

White said beyond learning aviation skills, receiving flying opportunities, acquiring leadership and discipline, participating in the Civil Air Patrol can help young people as they look to their future.

“It’s a good resume and college application item to be in the Civil Air Patrol,” White said. “It shows leadership, motivation and discipline.”

And for those who do choose to join the military, Civil Air Patrol cadets will have a leg-up on other recruits when they join, White said.

Pat Northrop, a Civil Air Patrol captain, said she came up through the cadet program in the late 1960’s, during which time the program helped her get her pilots license.

She said she also participated in exchange programs, both as a cadet on a 10 day trip to Hong Kong, and as an escort for cadets on a 10 day trip to Norway.

“My sister also came up through the program, then went off to the Air Force Academy, and is now a captain with South West Airlines,” Northrop said.

Local cadet events include an “egg drop,” where cadets climb the airport beacon tower and drop eggs with parachutes to see which container designs allow the eggs to survive, Todd said.

Todd said the program’s decline in popularity might be due to people associating the Civil Air Patrol with the military, he said.

“I think these days since it’s fashioned after the Air Force people think we are training their kids to be killers, but nothing could be further from the truth. We teach them the ability to follow and then the ability to lead,” Todd said.


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