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Student Civil Air Patrol program takes flight

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- While some middle-school students spend their free time playing video games or watching television, a recently chartered organization here is giving future Airmen the opportunity to experience crossing into the blue as Civil Air Patrol cadets.

Unlike ROTC, the cadets’ involvement is not graded as a part of their schoolwork. They volunteer their time and efforts to learn about aerospace.

The cadets, ages 12 to 21, observe what goes on during flight among many other important skills such as knowing how aircraft are built and interpreting radio signals and frequency transmissions, Staff Sgt. Karyn Kazimer said. She is the CAP deputy commander here who leads 19 cadets in learning about flight, service and leadership.

“Cadet orientation flights allow children to accrue hours toward their private pilot’s license,” said Sergeant Kazimer, a 606th Air Control Squadron satellite communications reservist.

CAP experience also helps prepare youth for a future Air Force career.

“The cadets test and make rank just like in the Air Force,” Sergeant Kazimer said. “In order to progress in rank, the cadets must pass an aerospace education test, leadership drill and ceremony, and successfully pass a physical training test.

“My biggest goal is to give kids the avenue of discipline and teach values,” she said. “Overall, character enhancement is what I’m looking for.”

As a former cadet, Senior Airman Shaun Reed, cadet program officer here, knows the benefits of the values learned through this cadet program.

“From a personal standpoint, it shaped my life in making better decisions when I was younger,” said Airman Reed, of the 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron. “From the age of 14, I participated and made my decision to join the Air Force. Along with other more mature decisions I made when I was young, I reflected lessons learned while a cadet in the (CAP) program.”

The national CAP holds several activities for the cadets. Some of these opportunities include search-and-rescue mission schools, space school and a weeklong “encampment” program designed to give cadets the opportunity to explore specialized areas of the CAP mission.

“The program gives kids a sense of accomplishment. It is so self-paced that what they put into it is what they’ll get out of it,” Airman Reed said. “It’s a chance to explore your own areas of interest that normal kids on the outside really can’t do.”

Cadets excelling in the program can progress from airman basic to master sergeant, with additional benefits for high-school teens.

“It’s good college scholarship material,” Sergeant Kazimer said. “There is more than $200,000 in college scholarships awarded to CAP cadets annually.”

For CAP cadet Will Biasotti, 17, participation in the program is a dream come true.

“I joined CAP because the commander said they learned to fly planes, do solos, it would look good on college applications, and I wanted something else to do,” he said. “All I’ve ever dreamed about is becoming a pilot since I was 6. This is one step closer for me.”

Sergeant Kazimer and her team have been hard at work providing opportunities, such as touring the air traffic control tour and experiencing A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon simulators, for the CAP cadets to get hands-on experience in the aviation industry.

“The kids love the organization,” Sergeant Kazimer said. “They like the discipline, (and) it’s something different (from) team sports.” (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)

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