Cadet 2nd Lt. Caleb Scanlan is pretty clear about what he feels are the advantages of participating in the Civil Air Patrol Youth Cadet Program.

“I think this program can set you up for anything you want to do in life, because it disciplines you to make you motivate yourself to do whatever you want,” he said.

Scanlan, 18, joined the Carroll Composite Squadron, the Carroll unit in the national Civil Air Patrol Organization, just over two years ago. The Carroll unit is composed of Cadets aged 12 to 21, like Scanlan, and adult senior members, according to Maj. Bob Midkiff, public information officer for the squadron.

“The CAP cadet program is our nation’s only aviation youth-oriented program,” Midkiff said. “Senior members are all volunteers. We volunteer performing different jobs and assignments for the U.S. Air Force. We are the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary.”

Civil Air Patrol cadets wear uniforms, earn rank, follow military courtesies, and even participate in search and rescue missions. The squadron is looking for new members, both cadets and adults, according to Midkiff, and held an open house Tuesday evening. In fact, anyone is welcome to attend any of the group’s regular meetings, which are 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday nights at Hilltop Assembly Hall in Westminster.

“What we are looking for are people willing to step up and donate their time and their talents and their services to trying to make the U.S. a better place to be,” Midkiff said. “I think we do an important job, and the more help we have to do it, the better.”

Another reason to reach out to the community at this time, Midkiff said, is that the Civil Air Patrol is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The Civil Air Patrol was created by an act of Congress in 1941, according to Midkiff, “in reaction to America’s imminent entry into WWII,” he said. “A bunch of civil aviators got together and lobbied Congress to create an organization that would be able to assist the Army Air Corps and help protect America’s skies and borders.”

Today, Civil Air Patrol volunteers conduct a variety of missions for many different organizations, according to Bob Midkiff.

“Sometimes we will do work for the Air Force, sometimes for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and sometimes for the state of Maryland; it all just depends on who needs us,” he said.

The Civil Air Patrol handles surveillance, and search and rescue for FEMA in disaster situations, Midkiff said, while also handling the bulk of inland searches for missing aircraft for the Air Force.

Our aircraft are much cheaper to operate over time because they are staffed by volunteers and the aircraft themselves don’t require quite as much money to operate,” he said.

While typically only senior members will have the experience necessary to pilot Civil Air Patrol aircraft, Midkiff said cadets are very much involved in real emergency missions.

“There are other air crew positions, including a scanner, which is a person that flies in the back seat and often takes real-time imagery that is sent back to the emergency base … that’s a vital point for disaster relief,” he said. “When it comes time to get out into the woods and start looking for lost aircraft, stuff like that, the bulk of the people that actually get out and do it are our Civil Air Patrol cadets.”

Aircraft knowledge and flight experience are major components of the cadet program, according to Midkiff.

“Every cadet that we have, we will put them through orientation flights to orient them to the aircraft,” he said. “They will have an experienced pilot on board, and the pilot will show them the control surface — this is how you turn left, right, up down — and then they will get some hands on time under the supervision of the pilot.”

Every cadet gets five powered flights and five glider flights during their time in the program, according to Scanlan.

“The first one, they will take you up and let you steer the plane. The second one they will let you do a little bit more,” Scanlan said. “The third one — actually, my third one was an interesting story.”

In his third flight, Scanlan said, the pilot demonstrated stall recovery maneuvers, climbing steeply, cutting the engine and then pitching downward into a steep dive to regain airspeed. It was not a maneuver that agreed with Scanlan’s equilibrium.

“It just kind of freaked me out. I like flying and open space, but when it’s a four-seat cockpit, it’s a little bit tucked in,” he said. “I almost threw up. I’ve only gotten to my third flight, but after that I was just done.”

That third flight made Scanlan realize he would prefer to go on to serve in a branch of the military more firmly rooted to the ground.

On the other hand, Cadet Senior Airman Laura Midkiff, Bob Midkiff’sdaughter, is interested in attending flight school.

“I do want to go do solo school eventually,” the 15-year-old Laura said. “I know Civil Air Patrol offers a lot of opportunities for cadets to apply and get into solo schools, glider schools.”

Laura joined the Carroll Composite Squadron less than a year ago, and even though her father had long been involved with the Civil Air Patrol, she said it hadn’t interested her until recently, when a friend joined.

“I came my first night, and mostly the first night is to orient the new kids coming in, and I got the basic run down of how it works and got to jump in with some of the basic cadets and learn what they do. And so, then it became something I was really interested in,” she said. “After a few weeks, I joined.”

Laura hasn’t done any search and rescue operations yet, but she has been able to join the Civil Air Patrol Maryland Wing Honor guard.

“We do change of command ceremonies, we do parades. With that. there is also the color guard that does a lot of the flag bearing during parades,” she said. “That’s a lot of fun.”


Original article by Jon Kelvey, Carroll County Times: