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The Air Cadet Experience - A Very Positive One!

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

Like many in Canada, I had a child go through the Air Cadet programme and I’d like to recommend it to those of you who might be thinking about it. The idea behind the programme is to prepare youngsters for possible enrollment in the RCAF at some later date, or simply to assist in their development into capable, confident adults. I saw my own daughter go through a well organized training programme of which she herself took part in teaching classes. Watching your child land a glider before she can legally park a car is quite an experience, especially when within what seemed like only months but was actually a few years she became an instructor, flying other people's kids with confidence.

Several airports throughout the country are selected as training locations for summer flight schools, like my local airport in Bromont, Quebec, and the one I flew out of in Guelph, Ontario, as well as Canadian forces airports such at detachments like CFD Mountainview, near CFB Trenton where cadets are housed for their summer courses.

For a child in his or her early teens to be going through an organization with military style training and discipline might not seem such a great idea to all parents, but it beats the heck out of playing video games and spending endless hours on the phone. These youngsters are getting a first class education, great physical exercise (including their share of square bashing) and several hours per week of confidence building interaction in a structured format where they learn respect for their peers, and to give and follow instructions to/from teenagers younger and older than themselves. Since school classes are all structured by age, even in sports teams, maybe this is one of the few occasions when your child can interact with teenagers of all ages.

Sometimes the highlight of a cadet's life turns out to be a special ride like this one. Warrant Officer 2nd Class Emily Hodgson of 690 Lakeshore Air Cadet Squadron who was selected as Cadet Ambassador: Quebec & Ottawa Valley Region 2010-2011 managed to snag a ride in a CT-114 Tutor. She even got to participate in some formation flying. Her pilot, himself and ex-air cadet, wrote later on her souvenir poster “You take me for a ride next time”! What a motivator.

WO2 Emily Hodgson with Capt. Yannick Gregoire, #4

You can read more about Emily’s day in the summer 2011 newsletter at the air cadet website link below.

Enrolment typically starts around September, and the student can get education credits in many provinces for courses undertaken at Air Cadet meetings.

Things that air cadets do include learning about civic responsibilities, all aspects of aviation from meteorology to air frames, engine to air law and principles of flight. They also do outdoor activities such as survival camping, as well as learning valuable communication skills. Very early on in a cadet’s career they begin to understand that regular attendance and enthusiastic participation in all aspects of a cadet’s activities will stand them in good stead for consideration for advanced courses such as glider pilot license and later private pilot licensing and maybe even a glider towing course.

Selling poppies, helping park cars at aviation events, participation in Remembrance Day and other parades are just some of the activities where you are likely to see the familiar blue uniforms. It’s remarkable to watch these youngsters growing. I distinctly remember a tiny lost-looking boy in his brand new uniform selling poppies outside the local supermarket one year, and being amazed how much the same boy had grown in both stature and confidence by the following year.

If you are not familiar with the nationwide Air Cadet League of Canada check out www.aircadetleague.com for more information.

If you yourself are interested in becoming a Cadet Instructor the main qualifications are a high school diploma, being between 18 and 64 years of age, and being a Canadian citizen. The League is always on the lookout for volunteers with something to teach.

The Air Cadet League promotes an interest in aviation for youngsters who may well become tomorrow’s pilots. We all have an opportunity to encourage our youth to get involved and learn more about aviation. Who knows, they might be fortunate enough to start an aviation career without incurring the costs that the majority of us had to as we were becoming pilots.

As always, your feedback is appreciated. How many of our readers benefited from the Air Cadet programme? Let us know with your comments below. That daughter of mine started Air Cadets at 12 or 13 and she currently holds commercial, multi-engine and IFR and went on to train in ATC and married a controller at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.


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