Civil Air Patrol cadets take off from Diamondhead airport

DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - The Civil Air Patrol is one of the best kept secrets of the US Air Force, but the patrol wants to get the word out and get more people involved.

The group has three missions: aerospace education, emergency services and the cadet program. Saturday their mission was the cadet program.

More than a dozen gathered at the Diamondhead Airport to learn about an exciting and fun topic, flying planes.

Capt. George Tolis who is in charge of the cadets said, "The cadet program is teaching children between the ages of 12 and 21 about aerospace education, leadership and giving them the opportunity to rise through the ranks."

The students get to experience first hand what it's like to be a member of the military.

"It is a great first step towards military service this as you can see we all wear the uniform, we perform in military missions and it's also a great way to learn about what the military is before jumping in head first into something you don't know about," Tolis explained.

The Civil Air Patrol actually gives students the chance to get behind the wheel and fly the plane. That is definitely Ralph Elliott's favorite part.

"I actually made a full 180 degree turn," Ralph said. "It was great and I hope I get to do it again. I've actually wanted to be a pilot since I was really young."

And as Ralph took off for his first flight his mother Sherie Elliott stood by and watched.

Sherie said, "No, I'm not nervous they train really well the senior members over them are really very well prepared and very competent and they encourage them a lot."

Sherie has three other children also in the cadet program. And although her son William has no desire to be a pilot it has opened his eyes to other careers within the aerospace field.

William said, "Well something on the ground maybe do the hand signals the marksmen or just work in an office maybe."

But whatever her children decide Sherie said, "We think this is a very good spring board for whatever they do in life."

With the leadership training, discipline and hands on experience the cadet program helps young people spread their wings and fly.

To learn more about the Civil Air Patrol and the cadet program click HERE.

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