Auburn organization gives youth chance to soar to new heights

Rewarding to see thankful community, cadet says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn squadron of a national organization offers support to the local community and its youth. The California Wing Civil Air Patrol Auburn-Starr Composite Squadron 92 is based out of the Auburn Municipal Airport. The squadron, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit was reconstituted in 1984 but has had a presence in Auburn since at least the 1960s. The national Civil Air Patrol was created by aviation-minded civilians on Dec. 1, 1941, one week before Pearl Harbor, as a response to the World War II conflict growing around the world, according to the organization’s website. According to 1st Lt. Steve Maples, deputy commander of cadets, the organization has three goals. “There are three missions of Civil Air Patrol,” Maples said. “It’s aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services. We do all kinds of things to educate the cadets in the community on aerospace.” Maples said there is an emphasis on teaching leadership skills to the youth of the community. There are currently 30 cadets in the squadron, and they hail from areas in Placer County, Sacramento and Grass Valley. Maples said there are also 34 seniors, or those who are 18 years and older, in the squadron. “The senior program is based more on management and operations, depending on what the individual’s interest is,” said Lt. Col. Larry Adair, the squadron’s deputy commander. The squadron’s Cessna airplane is used for search and rescue efforts in the Sierra as well as for cadet orientations. Seniors participate in air crews for search and rescue and cadets in ground teams, Maples said. Search and rescues could be organized through local law enforcement or through the Air Force, according to Maples. He said the Air Force would send local Civil Air Patrol squadrons to respond to distress beacons, narrowing down the area of where the beacon is coming from. Urban Direction Finding teams would then locate the beacons and possible person in distress. The squadron also assists with several local events, such as the Amgen Tour of California, Auburn Cruise Nite and the Auburn Air Show. Roseville resident Cadet 2nd Lt. Amanda Gonzales, 17, began her time in the squadron in April 2009. “I joined because I wanted to become a pilot in the Air Force and then become a pilot on an airliner,” Gonzales said. “In my two years of being in CAP, I have learned different leadership techniques that have helped me in my life. It has helped me learn how much our military does and what is at stake when they come out. It’s helped me with my public speaking a lot, whereas I can get up in front of people now, whereas two years ago when I joined I could not do it at all.” Gonzales is one of the squadron’s few cadet officers. Gonzales said during a typical cadet meeting, which take place every Wednesday from 6:30-9 p.m. during the school year and 6:30-9:30 during the summer, cadets will take classes in aerospace education, physical training, character development or drill every week. Before classes cadets get into formation. During the meetings different flights of cadets also learn about customs and courtesies, honor code and chain of command. A couple of times a month cadets also have uniform inspections. During meetings cadets are tested on things like leadership and aerospace education and also sometimes go before a promotion review board to move up in rank, according to Gonzales. Gonzales said community service through the squadron has also provided her with important lessons. “Community service, it’s taught me a lot about what our pilots do and how much work the city puts on in holding these air shows and fairs for the people,” she said. It’s also a rewarding feeling when community members express how thankful they are for any little help the cadets can offer with community events, Gonzales said. Adair said although the squadron isn’t required to provide community service, it feels it’s important because it provides the cadets with a look into different responsibilities. Adair said he thinks there are several important facets of the squadron being in the community, the cadet program is definitely one of them. “I think one of the more prevalent things that I notice with the cadets is how they mature in this program,” he said. “A lot of them come in here and they are timid naturally and withdrawn. After going through a year or so of this program, they are just the opposite.” The squadron recently began its new lease with the city of Auburn in an office above the Pilot’s Lounge on New Airport Road. Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn said he thinks groups like the Civil Air Patrol are a “wonderful part of this community.” “Specifically speaking of the Air Patrol, they obviously are a wonderful opportunity for young kids to get out there and … help the community,” Ruffcorn said. “It appears that they teach leadership as a priority and giving back to a community as a bi-product of that leadership. “Any type of organization like that that teaches leadership to our young people, to me it’s a wonderful service we can’t live without, because if you look to these people, they are future leaders in our community.” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ California Wing Civil Air Patrol Auburn-Starr Composite Squadron 92 Where: 13626 New Airport Road, Suite 201, Auburn Website: Information about Cadet Program: Call 1st Lt. Steve Maples at (916) 834-0200 or e-mail Information about Squadron 92: Call 1st Lt. Pete Hnat, squadron commander, at (916) 704-5803 or e-mail