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Remembering His Roots: Civil Air Patrol’s Incoming Commander Continues Work with Cadets

July 26, 2021

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Maj. Gen.-Select) Ed Phelka and Cadet Airman Anna Lyon after their orientation flight. 
Source: 1st Lt. Tamara Shannon, Oklahoma Wing.

by Capt. Brandon Lunsford, CAP, Oklahoma Wing

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (July 26, 2021) – Civil Air Patrol’s Oklahoma Wing celebrated its annual conference and awards banquet the weekend of July 17, as members from around the country came together with Oklahoma’s own to sharpen their skills with training and to honor the wing’s accomplishments.

Attendance for the weekend event included Civil Air Patrol’s incoming national commander, Maj. Gen.-Select Ed Phelka, set to take command in August. Phelka, a CAP cadet himself from 1987-, had one request upon being invited to provide the keynote speech at the awards banquet: “May I do orientation flights while I’m in town?”

“My favorite part of cadet orientation flights is providing a first-flight experience for cadets,” Phelka said. “I really enjoy being a part of a cadet’s discovery of aviation. I get a sense of accomplishment if the cadet has a great time and wants to go on another flight.


Maj. Gen.-Select Edward Phelka and Cadet Staff Sgt Audrey Carr of the Oklahoma Wing’s Broken Arrow Composite Squadron conduct a preflight inspection on a Civil Air Patrol aircraft. 
Source: 1st Lt. Tamara Shannon, Oklahoma Wing.

Cadet Airman Anna Lyon, 17, of Jenks was selected to fly with Phelka on her first flight in the program. The hourlong flight in a single-engine aircraft introduced Lyon, a member of the Oklahoma Wing’s Broken Arrow Composite Squadron, to the science that makes flight possible. She learned about navigation, weather, aircraft instruments, flight maneuvers and more.

Lyon’s day began by helping Phelka conduct a preflight inspection of their aircraft. The two taxied the aircraft to the airport’s runway, gave it full throttle and took off, climbing to 3,000 feet. While aloft, Lyon was the one handling the controls during the flight’s noncritical stages.

“That’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Lyon exclaimed after the flight.

Civil Air Patrol’s orientation flight program, part of its Youth Aviation Initiative, offers 10 introductory flights to each cadet member—five in powered planes and five in gliders. During these flights, cadets have the chance to take the controls and fly the aircraft. In fiscal 2020, despite the restricted operating environment during the COVID-19 pandemic), CAP, Air Force ROTC and Air Force Junior ROTC cadets received a combined total of 19,184 orientation flights.

“The Youth Aviation Initiatives that we have, are a critically important part of the Cadet Invest program,” Phelka said. I plan to work hard to expand these programs to provide benefits to even more cadets. CAP’s amazing philanthropy department has secured grants and scholarships that will also help to expand cadets’ access to aviation through CAP.”
 
Cadet Invest is CAP’s scholarship program that helps ensure financial requirements are not a barrier to cadets’ career exploration and personal development. Over 100 Civil Air Patrol cadets from 35 wings received academic and flight scholarships worth a combined total of $155,500 in 2021 through Cadet Invest.


Maj. Gen.-Select Ed Phelka and Cadet Airman Anna Lyon before the cadet’s orientation flight. 
Source: 1st Lt. Tamara Shannon, Oklahoma Wing.

“The aviation and career opportunities made available through CAP’s Cadet Program are critically important,” Phelka said. “Not only to the Air Force and other military branches, but to many civilian career fields as well.

“Cadets have amazing access to talented professionals from dozens of career fields through National Cadet Special Activities and encampments. Exploring their interests through these programs helps cadets decide their educational and occupational future. Being a part of such a program is an amazing opportunity for all CAP members, cadet and adult alike.”

“As a cadet I enjoyed all aspects of the cadet program,” Phelka said. “I wish I had participated in more activities. I strongly encourage cadets to explore as many of our activities as possible. Get out there and participate!”
 
Follow the adventures of Oklahoma Wing at Facebook.com/OKWGCAP

 

 

Tagged As: Aerospace Education

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About Civil Air Patrol
Now celebrating its 80th year, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives during the past fiscal year. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

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