About the Author

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Southport, Manitoba, Canada
Steve Pomroy is a professional flight instructor and aviation writer. He has been teaching since 1995 and holds an Airline Transport Pilot License, Class 1 Instructor and Aerobatic Instructor Ratings, military QFI, and an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He's written and published three flight training books through his company, SkyWriters Publishing, and has several other books under development. Steve currently teaches RCAF pilot candidates on their Primary Flight Training course.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Air Cadets

Since we’ve recently passed Armistice Day, this seems like a good time to write a quick note about the Cadet program. Although I would consider all of the Cadet programs (Army, Air, Sea) to be outstanding, my own experience was with Air Cadets . So, in keeping with the flying theme of this blog, I’ll focus on Air Cadets .

The most obvious statement that can be made about Air Cadets is that you can learn to fly through the program at no (financial) cost to yourself. The Air Cadets have a Gliding Scholarship program, through which you can go on a summer course and get your Glider License, and subsequently be presented with your Glider Wings. Also, they have a Flying Scholarship program, through which you can go on a summer course and get your Private Pilot License, and subsequently be presented with your “Power” wings. Getting to go on either of these programs is competitive and requires you to participate in a squadron level groundschool course, write an entrance exam, and participate in a board interview. The competition process itself is a valuable learning experience, and even if you don’t get to go on course, you can try again the next year.

Aside from the opportunity to fly, the Cadet program offers a whole host of other activities and benefits—not the least of which is a host of summer courses, varying in length from 2 to 6 weeks, to help cadets develop a variety of skills, including: leadership and instruction, musical ability, wilderness survival, and introductory courses in things such as aircraft maintenance and air traffic control. At the squadron level (meaning at home, not on a summer course), the Cadet program offers sports, compulsory and optional training activities, wilderness outings, and a variety of opportunities for personal growth. Perhaps the most significant of the personal growth experiences is the progressive responsibility earned as leadership skills are developed and rank is increased.

A good friend of mine, who never learned to fly through Cadets, but later paid his own way through flight training, once commented on the value he received from Cadets. He noted that even though he hadn’t learned to fly through them, he wouldn’t consider trading the experience for anything. The life skills obtained from the Cadet program were invaluable.

Surely, the most expensive benefit I received from Cadets was my Private Pilot License. But when I set financial considerations aside, I see many other treasures I obtained from my cadet experience. My early development as a leader, teacher, and citizen were almost exclusively the result of my Cadet experience. None of these things were (or are) provided by our public or post-secondary education system.

The Cadet program is considered to be a “paramilitary” organization in that they wear military uniforms, participate in military formalities such as marching and saluting, and use a military style rank structure. However, cadets do not receive any combat training and are under no obligation to join the Regular Forces or Reserves later in life. This is a common misunderstanding among parents. I had at least two friends growing up who were not permitted to join Cadets because their parents were certain they’d be required to join the Army later on. This fear is completely unfounded. The Cadet program is, first and foremost, a youth organization.

If you are between 12 and 18, you should look into the Cadet program and consider joining. If you’re older, you should consider how you might contribute. Leadership in the Cadet program comes primarily from the Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC). Civilian positions are also sometimes available.

Happy Flying!

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