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'Good kids doing good things': Civil Air Patrol relaunches Dickinson program

The program aims to build leadership and train youth to fly.

CAP cadet
Parker Case, who was a Civil Air Patrol Cadet as Dickinson teenager, is passing what he learned on to the next generation.
Contributed / Laura Roy
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DICKINSON — The Civil Air Patrol has relaunched their cadet program, offering aspiring aces in roughrider country a chance to soar. A cadet open house at Dickinson Middle School is scheduled for Oct. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Meetings will be held at the same time and place every week thereafter. Those aged 12 to 18 can enroll and remain in the program until age 21, Capt. 2nd Lt. Laura Roy said.

“So really we're gearing towards the middle school right now, you know, kids who are 12 and up so we can get them into the program and they can actually complete the whole program,” Roy said.

Richard Mehrer, 1st Lt. and CAP squadron commander in Dickinson, said older teens are also welcome to join.

“Even if you are, say an older teenager 16 or 17, there's still a chance you could join and there's still quite a bit that you can learn within, say two years before graduating high school,” he said. “The main purpose is to develop leadership capabilities of today's youth. It gives them a sense of confidence. With the program we train them on all aspects of how to command large groups, small groups, how to do public speaking — pretty much anything that can help bolster confidence of youth.”

Roy helped launch the program in 2016, but it dissolved several years later. She wanted to bring the opportunity back to Dickinson so her daughter, Phoebe Roy, could participate.

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“It's good kids doing good things, you know, learning valuable skills for their future,” Laura Roy said. “So that's why I just really believe in the program.”

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Her two adult children were CAP cadets so the younger Phoebe already has plenty of experience, even though she hasn’t been an official member. She will be eligible for the cadet program when she turns 12 in June. Watching her brother’s involvement piqued her interest in CAP.

“I want to follow in his footsteps,” Phoebe Roy said.

She was a 'sidekick' of the program as youngster, her mother said.

“Her brother was cadet commander for a long time here. I think she just saw him lead and she was just intrigued,” Laura Roy said.

Phoebe Roy is most excited about learning to fly an airplane through the program. Mehrer said cadets can go on orientation rides with local pilots.

“The cadet gets to sit in the seat right next to the pilot and they show them how all the controls work,” Mehrer said. “And then cadets are guaranteed a minimum of five orientation rides in the powered aircraft as well as five orientation rides in a glider aircraft.”

The gliders don’t have engines.

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Phoebe and Eden
Phoebe Roy, pictured at age 6, checks out an aircraft with Eden West.
Contributed / Laura Roy

“So basically it's towed out by another plane, and then released and the kids just glide down,” Roy said. “It's pretty cool.”
In addition, cadets have the opportunity to enroll in CAP’s Wings program.

“It's basically an Air Force funded training course to help cadets get the pilot's license,” Mehrer said. “And then from there, it's just a matter of how much work you put in. You have to maintain or achieve a minimum of 40 hours of flight time before you're able to get your license. So if you were to start when you were 15, for example, and completely commit yourself to it, you could probably almost have it before your 16th birthday.”

Cadets can also receive training for emergency services and in the past have trained with the color guard.

“It's also a place where cadets can learn to respect one another and that no matter who they are, what age they are, they will be treated with respect,” Mehrer said. “There are some situations where it can provide a decent, safe haven for cadets to express themselves.”

The previous program was discontinued, in part, due to a lack of volunteers. Organizers hope to avoid that this time around and are recruiting volunteers to help run the program. Those interested must be 18 or older and pass a background check.

“We're always looking for adult members who are friendly, outgoing, helpful,” Mehrer said. “There is plenty for you to do if you don't have any flight experience but if you do happen to have flight experience, it is a plus.”

Former cadets
From left: Alex Mcwhithey, Cameron Shriver, Parker Case, 2nd Lt. Laura Roy, Madison Roy and Carissa Dalen were members of the Civil Air Patrol cadet program in past years.
Contributed / Laura Roy
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Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on Stark County and other rural municipality governments, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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