More than 200 Civil Air Patrol members from across the U.S. are gathering to serve the aviation community over the next two weeks by providing support for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, promoted as the “World's Greatest Aviation Celebration."
In all, 150 CAP cadets and 55 senior members will pitch in during the event, which annually draws more than 550,000 people and over 20,000 aircraft to Wittman Field, making it the busiest airport in the world for at least one week each summer.
The air show starts July 23, but the CAP members descend on the area Monday, a week earlier, and will remain through July 30, a day after the show concludes.
They’re participating in National Blue Beret, a CAP National Cadet Special Activity. To qualify, those selected are required to complete nine courses, including several offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The first week is devoted to preparation and obtaining the qualifications required to serve on an intensive, high-tempo mission base. NBB is one of five search and rescue mission bases activated across Wisconsin by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and staffed by CAP’s Wisconsin Wing during AirVenture Oshkosh.
“NBB is one of the most real-world experiences a cadet can have in CAP. The jobs we perform lend their own sense of intensity to the learning environment,” said Col. Rick Franz, National Blue Beret director for 2018.
The CAP members support the EAA event by marshalling aircraft on the flight line, tracking and finding overdue aircraft and interacting with the public. NBB participants also often support the CAP National Recruiting booth, staffed by Wisconsin Wing members.
The environment at EAA AirVenture provides a STEM extravaganza where cadets can meet with any of more than 900 aerospace manufacturers and vendors. EAA workshops are hands-on events that encourage cadets to learn such aircraft manufacturing skills as woodworking, welding, engine repair, electronics and fabric covering.
Opportunities are also available to meet legendary aviators, celebrities and aviation professionals. The education and career pavilion offers cadets transitioning into careers and college the opportunity to meet with representatives of over 30 colleges, universities and service academies. In addition, many major aviation industry recruiters are looking for the next aviation professionals.
Ultimately, cadets learn how to become leaders while taking on the responsibility of serving others – in this case, the general aviation community and AirVenture visitors.
“We strive to transform NBB into a servant leadership-focused event,” Franz said. “Our goal is to build servant leaders who understand they have a responsibility to go back and share their knowledge and skills with their local squadrons and communities.”
National Blue Beret is one of about 50 National Cadet Special Activities sponsored by CAP across the nation this summer. These activities enable cadets to hone their skills in a variety of areas, including search and rescue, flight and emergency services, science, leadership fundamentals, citizenship and military courtesies and to explore aerospace technology and aviation careers.
Through its cadet program, CAP builds strong citizens for the future by providing leadership training, technical education, scholarships and career education to young men and women 12-20.