Civil Air Patrol flies under the radar

Josiah Black, 12, center, looks over items from a 24-hour pack used by Civil Air Patrol Airman Derek Jantz, 12, left, and Staff Sgt. Brian Grenke, 15, during the Civil Air Patrol open house Tuesday at the Missouri National Guard Armory.


By ROGER MCKINNEY | Columbia Daily Tribune | Published: September 25, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Tribune News Service) — Katy Parcell described taking control of a four-seat Cessna during an orientation flight at the Jefferson City airport.

"It was amazing, because I'm new to aviation," Parcell said Tuesday. "I actually got to fly. That was truly amazing. That was a dream come true."

Parcell, 14, is a basic airman cadet in the Central Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. She's a freshman at Hickman High School, where she also is involved in Columbia Aeronautics and Space Administration. She was at Tuesday's Civil Air Patrol open house at the Columbia National Guard Armory, attended by around 50.

Parcell joined the squadron at the start of the school year.

"Civil Air Patrol offers a very inexpensive method for anyone wanting to be a pilot," she said. Cadets get five free orientation flights and they can earn their solo "wings" for making a solo flight at less than half the cost of doing it outside of Civil Air Patrol, she said.

"I enjoy aeronautics," she said of future plans. "I would like to fly."

Squadron Commander Lt. James Jenkins has been in Civil Air Patrol for 4½ years. He said the squadron includes both cadets — members who are 12 to 17 — and senior members — 18 and older. That's why it's called a composite squadron, he said.

Civil Air Patrol often goes unnoticed, he said.

"It's been called America's best kept secret," he said. "I'm really, really happy with the turnout."

Civil Air Patrol is the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary with emergency response, search and rescue and youth development included in its mission. Many of the aerial still photos of Missouri River flooding in the spring were taken by Civil Air Patrol members in other states.

Airman Alishah Choudhry, 14, a sophomore at Rock Bridge High School, and senior airman William Hawkins, who is home-schooled, staffed the signup table.

"It's a super-cool program for kids who want to be in the military or want to be a pilot," Choudry said. "It really does open up opportunities."

Hawkins said the twice-yearly encampments are kind of like military boot camp. The Civil Air Patrol will lead him to the Air Force, he said. He wants to be involved in pararescue, a part of the special force that performs duties including rescuing pilots stranded behind enemy lines.

Choudry said she might try to get into one of the military academies, but if she isn't accepted she'll join the ROTC.

"I'm not exactly sure yet," she said.

©2019 Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.
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