Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program Opens New Vista for Aero Experiences

April 15, 2016 | Author: George Risinger

After 24 years in the U.S. Air Force and 17 years working at Honeywell Aerospace, I thought gliders were my next aviation pursuit. That’s what led me last year to the Northwest Aviation Show in Puyallup, Wash., where I was looking for some information on glider training.

But a chance encounter at the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) booth has opened up a whole new avenue to pursue my aerospace interests – and share what I’ve learned through the years.

Now I volunteer with the CAP Cadet Program for teen-agers at the Mount Rainier Composite Squadron at Thun Field in Puyallup. Working as a senior member has proven more interesting and rewarding than I could have imagined.

We’ve shared some great experiences so far, including a flight on a C-17 Medical Training Mission with the Reserve Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The trip to northern California and back gave the cadets the opportunity to sit in the cockpit and watch the operations, and some were selected to participate in the medical team’s emergency scenarios.

Initially formed Dec. 1, 1941, CAP put civil aviation in the U.S. to good use during World War II. CAP’s efforts ranged from submarine patrol and warfare to border patrols and courier services. Today’s CAP’s mission encompasses aerospace education, emergency services and cadet programs. The all-volunteer endeavor became part of the U.S. Air Force Total Force late last year.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James considers the CAP forces “a strategic partner,” noting “these unpaid professionals have boldly served our nation, saving the Air Force almost 40 times the cost of using military assets for each hour served. Inclusion in the total force reflects the continuing key contributions of this highly trained and equipped organization.”

With the Civil Air Patrol marking its 75th anniversary this year, every state invited a CAP Squadron to its capital to present the colors at the state legislature. The Mount Rainer Squadron attended a session of the Washington Senate in Olympia. This gave the cadets a great opportunity to see how government works. They all have indicated they would like to return to participate in the Senate Page Program and work for a Senate official.

We are now training our cadets and senior members in emergency services, skills that could prove useful for natural disasters – such as earthquakes – in our region. With our training, we will be able to support the military and local governments with photography of damaged areas, provide communications and assist with search and rescue efforts.

The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is a worthwhile experience for all involved. For cadets, it helps prepare those dreaming about a career in aviation, space or the military. I am energized by this new pursuit outside my daily work life, and I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with the cadets and other senior members of the squadron.

Anyone can look into joining the CAP and help their communities. To learn more about CAP in your area, visit

George Risinger

George Risinger

George Risinger is a Shift Supervisor at the Honeywell Global Data Center, which provides air traffic services, worldwide VHF and satellite datalink communications, worldwide flight planning and more to improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of flight operations.

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