Six teens experienced the flight of a lifetime Saturday. For a brief time the controls were handed over and each were given a chance to fly the airborne plane. The cadet program of the Logan Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer organization that follows military courtesies and customs, provided the unique opportunity for the 13 to 16 year olds. “It was amazing,” says one such participant Kelsi Christensen after returning to the ground. “It was cool, they let me take over the controls and we flew over my house, it was really fascinating to see how everything works.” Unique educational opportunities for the youth is just one of the various services the Civil Air Patrol offers. A charter of the U.S. Air force, Congress designed the program during World War II as a volunteer organization of ‘minutemen;’ civilian pilots who could help in the war efforts at a moments notice. The group has since helped in many war efforts, were the first on the scene at ground zero September 11th, saved countless with their search and rescue flights, and are even currently involved with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill clean up.Locally, the Civil Air Patrol has been around since the 1950’s says volunteer Major L.R. Earl who has logged 15,000 service hours in the program. Once a youth participant himself, he says he and his brother were first introduced to flying through the patrol’s cadet program. “He joined them in ‘55 and went on to be a Navy aviator,” says Major Earl. Likewise, many teens in the cadet program today will go on to military service. Ten percent of all students enrolled in the national Air Force Academy are alumni of the Civil Air Patrol Cadet program. Still, military service is not the objective. “There are a wide variety of kids and we have no expectation of military service,” says Squadron Commander Inken Christensen. “It’s not a requirement, but we do use military customs, courtesies and drill to teach.”The 30 members in the cadet program are taught various skills and objectives such as aerospace, leadership, team building, physical training, ground support, and discipline. Many teens have been used for actual missions says Major Earl. “The program just creates outstanding moral development in the kids and character development. Its right on par with the boy scouts.”Each Wednesday the Civil Air Patrol meets on the Utah State University grounds. The adult leaders spend countless hours educating and training the teens, all without any monetary compensation. Seeing the development in there cadets makes all that worth it, though. “You most definitely see a change in these kids after they start [the program], says Christensen. “It’s just really neat to be a part off.”
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