high-altutudeballoongraphic-0822VAwingThe Virginia Wing’s William P. Knight Composite Squadron cadet team is the champion of the 2022 Civil Patrol National Aerospace Education High-Altitude Balloon Challenge.

For finishing first in the second annual competition, the team received the 2022 Col. Joe Kittinger Cup; a $5,000 prize from Kittinger, pioneering high-altitude balloon scientist; and autographed copies of his autobiography, “Come Up and Get Me.”

VAknightsquadronThe Knight squadron cadets studied the effects of high-altitude conditions on diabetes test strips’ effectiveness.

“The cadets’ analysis of their experiment and additional research into what would cause their results is impressive,” competition judges said. “They went beyond just analyzing data and provided a thorough analysis and how they would modify their experiment in the future.” 

The team members are:

  • Cadet Capts. Katherine Chung-Ting Ku and Sarah Sitoula
  • Cadet 1st Lt. Rachel Chung-Chi Ku  
  • Cadet Chief Master Sgts. Alisha Sitoula, Megan Ajay Sawant, and Neel Ajay Sawant
  • Cadet Tech. Sgt. Thomas Ye
  • Cadet Senior Airman Daniel Berberian 

Other top overall performers were: 

  • First runner-up  ($600 grant) – Cuyahoga County Cadet Squadron, Ohio Wing
  • Second runner-up ($500 grant) — Goddard Cadet Squadron. Massachusetts Wing
  • Third runner-up ($400 grant) – Show Low Composite Squadron 210, Arizona Wing
  • Fourth runner-up $(300 grant) – Hawk Composite Squadron, New Hampshire Wing

”I want to applaud each cadet and adult mentor involved in this challenging program,” said CAP’s national commander and CEO, Maj. Edward D. Phelka, who announced the awards. “Each person involved is a winner regardless of whether an award is presented to you.”

The inaugural challenge last year was won by a team of four Massachusetts Wing cadets – two each from the  Bridgewater State University Composite Squadron and Goddard Cadet Squadron.  

In all, this year more than 1,500 cadets from 122 squadrons across CAP participated, designing more than 500  experiments for launching to the stratosphere in 50-milliliter test tubes on high-altitude balloons.

The experiments were lifted above north central Indiana on Aug. 13 as payloads in three balloons, ascending to heights from 98,663-105,661 feet before falling back to Earth for recovery.

Cadets and senior members from the Indiana and Kentucky wings helped prepare and release the balloons at Anderson Preparatory Academy in Anderson, Indiana.

Indiana Wing air and ground teams and small Unmanned Aerial Systems tracked and retrieved the balloons. The recovered payloads were shipped back to the cadet teams to analyze their experiments.

Winners were chosen after teams submitted a documentary-style four-to-five-minute video in September describing their experiments and their participation in the competition.

Each team submitted a hand- or digitally drawn mission patch, a pre-launch video; a science experiment slide; and a final documentary video.

Here are this year’s top performers in individual categories:

Hand-Drawn Mission Patch
Winner ($250 grant) Granite Cadet Squadron, Maryland Wing

Finalists ($100 grants)Anoka County Composite Squadron. Minnesota Wing; 77th St. Louis Crusaders Composite Squadron, Hawaii Wing; and Hawk Composite Squadron, New Hampshire Wing

Digitally Drawn Mission Patch
Winner ($250 grant) Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Composite Squadron, Massachusetts Wing

Finalists ($100 grants) Anderson Composite Squadron, Indiana Wing; Hanscom Composite Squadron, Massachusetts Wing; La Crosse Composite Squadron, Wisconsin Wing; and Pikes Peak Composite Squadron, Colorado Wing

Prelaunch Video
Winner ($300 grant) Raleigh-Wake Composite Squadron, North Carolina Wing

Finalists ($100 grants) Fort Snelling Cadet Squadron, Minnesota Wing, and Cuyahoga County Cadet Squadron, Ohio Wing

Science Slide  
Finalists ($200 grants) Cuyahoga County Cadet Squadron, Ohio Wing; Goddard Cadet Squadron, Massachusetts Wing; Redstone Composite Squadron, Alabama Wing; and Trail of Tears Composite Squadron, Missouri Wing

Winner ($500 grant) North Chesapeake Cadet Squadron, Delaware Wing

Finalists ($300 grants) Potomac Highlands Composite Squadron, West Virginia Wing, and Valparaiso Composite Squadron, Indiana Wing.