NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS – More than 600 Civil Air Patrol members are gathering in Baltimore this week as the organization officially ramps up its yearlong 70th anniversary celebration with all eyes on its high-flying cadet program.
CAP officially marks the the cadet program’s anniversary in October, but the observation gets started early at the 2012 Annual Conference and National Board meeting Tuesday through Saturday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
“We gather in Baltimore to revel in the successes of our cadets – in flight, in public service and as leaders in the public sector,” said Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr, CAP national commander. “Truly, each of the candles on this year’s birthday cake burns bright with the accomplishments of literally hundreds of thousands of young people who have gone on to do themselves and their country proud.”
As part of the observance, CAP’s cadet program is front and center at this year’s conference, hosted by the Maryland Wing. Saturday will be Cadet Day, offering an opportunity to explore careers with the CIA, find out how to get selected for the U.S. Air Force Academy, build and operate robots and learn about remote-controlled aircraft.
They also will get a chance to meet aviation legend Col. Mary Feik, a Life Member of CAP from nearby Annapolis. A recipient of many aerospace honors, Feik is an aviation engineer and aircraft restorer who was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1994.
Among other special guests for the conference is retired Air Force Brig. Gen. and former CAP Cadet Col. James A. Jaeger, who now serves as director of commercial and international cyber systems at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. He will be the keynote speaker for the awards banquet Saturday.
Jaeger earned CAP’s highest cadet honor – the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – in January 1969 while a cadet in the Wisconsin Wing. As Spaatz award recipient No. 80, he is in rare company. Only two out of every 1,000 CAP cadets have earned the award.
Other CAP members will be honored for their service during the Awards Recognition ceremony Saturday.
Members will also attend 15 preconference workshops customized to fulfill their unique professional development needs. Many of the workshops focus on new CAP technology, such as operation of the auxiliary’s new Geospatial Information Interoperability Exploitation Portable go-kits, which feature self-contained communications equipment and other hardware that allows for real time or near-real time full-motion video, digital imagery and in-flight chat capability. A Cessna G1000 Ground School is scheduled as well.
In addition, more than 60 learning labs are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The mini-seminars target topics of interest to members, such as disaster relief, finance, homeland security, communications, safety, aerospace education and public affairs.