For youth who have a passion for planes, Saturday was an opportunity to get insight and information to chase their dream.
The Gainesville Composite Squadron 160 Georgia Wing-Civil Air Patrol and their cadets opened their doors to visitors and prospective cadets who were interested in learning about what the Civil Air Patrol and their cadet programs offer.
The CAP Open House was held at the National Guard Armory in Gainesville.
The CAP is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, and was founded in 1941. It conducts emergency services, aerospace education and offers cadet programs for ages 12-20.
Some of the festivities included a question-and-answer session, interaction with current CAP cadets, captains and majors, and activities that incorporated what the CAP does with emergency, aerospace and cadet programs.
“I was very pleased,” said Capt. Ross Statham of the Gainesville Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol. “We started our cadet program just a little over a year and a half ago, and in a year and a half, to see what we have now pleases me. Is there room for improvement? Yeah. There’s always room for improvement.
“But I saw cadets taking charge. I saw cadets doing stuff. I saw cadets showing other cadets how to do stuff. I saw cadets talking to visitors. I saw cadets greeting visitors, making them feel welcomed. Parents were asking good questions. ... One of the things I really did like was watching (the cadets) run the stations the way they did. They did well.”
The stations featured a trivia game; a makeshift minefield using chairs and trash cans that helped in communication and leadership skills between a runner and caller; and a paper-airplane station that featured the aerospace education.
Statham said he hoped those who visited Saturday left with an impression of “this is a friendly place” and he wants those who volunteer their time, both youth and adults, to have fun.
He also said if a youth decides to join the cadet program, then they should, “work hard and listen, because (the cadets) succeed beyond their wildest dreams. They can do anything they want.”
Cadet Chris Olmstead, a 17-year old senior at Flowery Branch High School, has been part of a squadron for a year and a half. He said being a part of the program and learning about the Air Force, its core values and military life, has motivated him to pursue a military career.
“(The CAP cadet program) will help me with my career in the military,” he said.
Olmstead also hopes to get in to the Air Force Academy next year. “With my lieutenant award, I’m eligible for a promotion in the Air Force. So that is one pro.
“I’m eligible for several flight scholarships through the CAP.”
He also said the cadet program teaches you not only a flying aspect, but a it teaches you leadership, character development and discipline, such as drill ceremonies.
“It has been such an experience for me. I’ve gained so much insight into what I hope to pursue as a career,” he said.
Mark Timm, a father of five, brought his three daughters to Saturday’s open house.
“I think it teaches kids respect,” he said. “It teaches them leadership. There’s a lot of times where they can have fun, learn how to fly, learn how to model a rocket. It’s good for them.”
Kelsey Timm, 12, wants to one day join the Air Force, her father said. If she joins the cadet program, he wants to participate with her.
“It’s good to spend time with your kids,” he said. “So I think anytime you can have an event with them is great.”
“I’m excited about (the cadet program) because I really want to know how to fly planes,” Kelsey said. “Maybe someday, I want to go for the jets. This is maybe why I want to join (the cadet program).
“I’ve always wanted to know how it is to fly.”
For more information on the Gainesville Composite Squadron 160 and the cadet programs, visit: www.ga160.org, or contact Capt. Ross Statham at 770-872-0924.