Savannah Smith of Gilmer, deputy commander of the Gregg County Composite Squadron, used a PowerPoint presentation to give a broad overview.
Seth Grimes of Gilmer, a member of the Gladewater Corsair Composite Squadron, filled in gaps at the end.
The nonprofit CAP was formed 65 years ago. The volunteer members do surveillance and reconascence, rescue operations, looking for drugs, etc.
They recruit young volunteers, including high schoolers, and train them in aerospace and physical education-type activities, character development, etc.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Miss Smith enthusiastically said.
She showed pictures and described backgrounds of some people who started in CAP as teenagers.
One was Major Samantha Weeks, who graduated as a cadet from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and previously was the sole female in the USAF Thunderbirds.
Another was Major Ken Cap, who was a USAF cadet wing commander.
He is noted for safety landing a severely damaged A10 Warthog.
Colonel Eri Boe became a NASA astronaut and logged more than 5,000 hours in 45 different aircraft.
Locally, CAP squadrons are involved in many areas of public service, including helping out at the Great Texas Balloon Race, Dalton Days, Gusher Days, and providing Color Guards and Air Show Support.
Cadet Smith said that in the aerospace arena, locally they’ve built small rockets,and on orientation flights got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat.
“Many have never gotten into a plane before,” she said. Often, they find they love it.
They also have flight camps at various locations. Following a one-week summer camp at Nacogdoches, cadets have an opportunity to solo.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she reiterated.
In addition to flight training, they learn how to wear uniforms, are exposed to the cadet training and education program, and participate in “lots of cadet activities, locally or at large events.”
They also learn public speaking skills, which both cadets admirably demonstrated to the Kiwanians.
“We have similar interests and serve the same goals,” she said. “They have the most amazing activities. I got to do things I didn’t think I was capable of doing.”
As Cadet Grimes wrapped it up, someone asked him how he came to be in the Civil Air Patrol.
He pointed to Kiwanian and long-time CAP member, Col. Butch Ragland and said “that man right there.”
Those interested in more information or joining the CAP may call Capt. Harold Parks Jr. at 903-762-1133.