A pair of Civil Air Patrol mission pilots, both former U.S. Air Force officers, are drawing on their aviation knowledge and experience to teach and prepare cadets in their West Virginia Wing squadron for an aeronautics career if the youth decide to pursue that route.
Lt. Col. Dale Olson is the Wheeling Composite Squadron’s aerospace education officer, and Col. Paul McCroskey is assistant aerospace education officer. Olson has created and implemented an aerospace education program that introduces cadets to aeronautics details.
The program, launched in July, will take a year to complete. Monthly classes consist of a lecture, followed by an activity to help cement the concept just discussed. Cadets participating in the program spent three hours learning how to use E6B flight computers.
“The E6-B looks complicated, but once it is explained you can fly across the country with it,” said Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Nemuras.
The cadets followed up by devoting four hours on a Saturday navigating a simulated cross-country trip, tying together everything they’ve learned about the E6B and using aviation sectional charts as well as Civil Air Patrol aerospace education’s Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit.
The exercise provided Olson with the opportunity to teach the cadets about magnetic deviation, wind speed, fuel usage, and calculating travel time as those fundamentals pertain to planning a cross country flight.
Though some of the concepts prove challenging to the younger cadets, Olson, McCroskey, and Maj. Debra Mertz have designed the activities so all the cadets could learn.
Mertz said she “was impressed and very encouraged by the stronger cadets helping those in their teams who needed any help. The teams worked together well.”
Cadet Capt. Jacob Harr, who is working through a ground course, said the program and in particular the STEM Kit “was very beneficial for me as I work towards my private pilot’s (certificate).” He and his fellow cadets also use CAP STEM flight simulators as they learn about aeronautics.
“Overall, the STEM Kit is a very good exercise that uses brainstorming, analytical thinking, troubleshooting, and applications of aerospace and real-time data,” Mertz said.
“I am quite impressed with it and feel that the STEM project was a huge success,” she said.
1st Lt. Cathleen Harr
Wheeling Composite Squadron
West Virginia Wing