By 1st Lieutenant William Mason
Contributions by David Mazzenga
REGION--With dew still clinging to many cars, 11 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadets and Officers from the Sullivan County Cadet Squadron, four of which hail from Wayne County, PA, gathered early Wednesday morning, August 29, at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, NY.
Members traveled from as far away as Pennsylvania for the exciting chance to travel on one of the world’s largest aircraft, a C-17A Globemaster III.
CAP was invited by the 105th Airlift Wing to enjoy the unique opportunity of seeing US Airmen show off their enormous plane and demonstrate its abilities.
After a briefing on safety, with cadets trying on the various lifesaving equipment, the group was bused out to the tarmac to board aircraft 0105, “The Sentinel.”
Captain America watched over the New York City Skyline on the nose art while inside, Captain James Cartica, the aircraft commander, watched over the mission.
Pushed by four engines, each producing over 40,000 pounds of thrust, the Globemaster made quick work of escaping Earth and climbed rapidly into the sky.
The flight initially followed the Hudson River north to Albany before heading northeast to overfly Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.
While in New England, a rendezvous with a Maine Air National Guard 101st Air Refueling Wing KC-135 was made and the two aircraft conducted an airborne refueling.
After, the plane returned to Stewart and conducted two tactical landings simulating a landing in hostile territory and designed to minimize exposure to enemy fire.
CAP members were seated in jump seats in the cargo hold of the Globemaster, an uninterrupted space more than 12 feet high, 18 feet wide and 88 feet long.
The hold had been fitted with nearly 100 seats for this mission but could just as easily hold a helicopter or tank.
The flight deck is found by climbing a steep set of stairs at the front of the hold and passing through a small bunk room.
It has seats for the pilot, co-pilot and two others and CAP members were invited in groups of four to observe these professionals as they navigated four states in less than an hour.
Major Ben Segreti said, “It was great having the CAP members onboard today for the incentive flight.”
He had flown the refueling portion of the mission as he needed it to maintain his currency in the aircraft.
Lieutenant Colonel Kristopher Geis, Chief of Staff of the 105th, who helped arrange the flight, said that, “Civil Air Patrol is one of the five components of the Air Force,” and that flights like this were a “Great tool for branding.
No one knows about the Air National Guard in Newburgh.
Events like this get the word out.”
Several CAP members were unaware of the Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport and this was a great opportunity for them to learn about the Air National Guard and what they do to defend our country.
At the conclusion of the flight, the CAP members were asked if they had had fun and the response was unanimous: “YES!”
For 1st Lieutenant William Mason, Deputy Commander of the Sullivan County Cadet Squadron, the best part of the whole experience was the look of excitement on the cadets's faces.
“What we do, we do for the cadets,” said Mason.
He explained, for some members of the squadron, it was their first time on an airplane.
The cadets learned a great deal about how teamwork functions while operating an aircraft, said Mason.
Complimenting the Air National Guard's professionalism, Mason noted the were all “on point. They knew what they were talking about and if they didn't they knew who to ask.”
The whole operation took around two hours, said Mason, noting the great speed required of an aircraft to travel up to the top of New England and back in that amount of time.
One of the more interesting things the cadets learned was that the Air National Guard sometimes uses the Globemaster and other large transport aircraft to transport the presidential motorcade while the President travels separately aboard Air Force One.
With nearly 60,000 members nationwide, CAP is a volunteer civilian auxiliary arm of the Air Force which performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions.
Mason explained the CAP has three main missions: Preform emergency service flights, provide aerospace education, and work through the cadet program to turn youth into reliable and responsible adults.
“I want cadets to grow up and give back to their community,” said Mason, noting that could be through military service, firefighting, emergency medical service or joining CAP as an adult.
Cadets can join the program between the ages of 12 and 18 and can remain a cadet until they turn 21.
Cadets learn a series of skills useful for taking care of themselves and others, and for giving back to the community,s aid Mason.
They also participate in many learning activities centered around the sciences, especially aeronautics.
Adult volunteers can join as early as age 19 to help with CAP's missions both for its cadets and the community as a whole.
“We need adults with all sorts of skills,” said Mason, noting all CAP senior members need to be those who set a positive example for the cadets.
Those interested in learning more about or joining the Sullivan County Cadet Squadron can do so through their website: http://sccsnycap.weebly.com.
Information is also available from the group's Facebook page.
Information about the CAP as an organization is available online at: www.gocivilairpatrol.com.