17:01 PM

Calif. Squadron Treats Cadets to Air Force Academy Trip

Capt. Jeff Goeggel
Public Affairs Officer
Fullerton Composite Squadron 56
California Wing

A dozen California Wing cadets and four senior members paid a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in order to give the cadets a close look at the service academy they’ve expressed interest in attending and a chance to see what cadet life is really like.

To qualify for the visit, sponsored by Fullerton Composite Squadron 56, cadets had to be at least a high school junior or senior and have a keen interest in attending the academy after graduation. Each interested cadet submitted a resume and a letter of interest as part of an application process. Five Fullerton cadets qualified, with the remaining seven spots filled by cadets from four other units. 

Plans for the trip – provided at no cost to the cadets – began taking shape when Capt. Doug Miller, Fullerton commander, spoke with a senior member who recalled riding on a C-130 to Colorado Springs as a cadet with his squadron for a tour of the academy. That conversation prompted Miller to arrange a visit through the area director for the academy’s Admissions Office, Gay Harrison.

The 16 California Wing members made the flight on the Flabob Express, a DC-3 based at Flabob Airport near Riverside and flown by Bob and Bill Tymczyszyn – brothers, retired U.S. Air Force colonels and former commercial pilots. Their plane, about 75 years old, has been completely restored and upgraded with a plush interior, finely stained woodwork and a highly polished exterior. En route to Colorado Springs, each cadet was granted time in the cockpit’s right seat.

After a night spent at the Academy Hotel, the group met up with Harrison and 15 academy airmen from the cadet wing. Each California Wing cadet paired off with an academy cadet and attended classes with them from 9 a.m.-noon, followed by a break for the noon meal with the entire Air Force Cadet Wing in Mitchell Hall, the academy’s main dining facility.

While the cadets were attending classes, the senior members stayed behind in the library and asked a few of the academy cadets about academy life. That afternoon the senior members and cadets toured the campus with Harrison, seeing dorms, classrooms, the library and the chapel.

The next day brought a tour of the Field House, a more personal tour of the campus and a presentation by academy cadets on the academy’s history. As they made their way across the grounds wearing dress blues, the California Wing cadets attracted numerous onlookers, including high-ranking officers who stopped to introduce themselves as former Civil Air Patrol cadets and to encourage the young visitors to follow their lead through CAP to the academy and their chosen career.

After lunch the group was given the Aviation Focus Tour, often referred to as the "Super Tour." The cadets toured the academy airfield, where academy cadets learn how to parachute and earn their jump wings. They also visited the glider hangar, where instructor pilots – all academy cadets – spoke about the glider training program.

The tour was capped by an early April snowstorm the first time a few of the cadets had ever seen snow or experienced a nighttime temperature of 17 degrees.

The return trip featured an overnight stopover in Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed by a flight to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. There the group toured the world’s largest boneyard for storage of military aircraft, followed by a trip to the flight line where their DC-3 was refueling for the final leg of the trip. On the way to Chino Airport, the cadets and senior again logged some flight time in the right seat.

Along with Miller, the commander, the Fullerton Composite Squadron participants were:

  • 2nd Lts. Jet Miller, disaster preparedness officer, and Foster Stanback, safety officer;
  • Cadet Senior Master Sgt. John Garcia;
  • Cadet Master Sgt. Robert Smith; 
  • Cadet Senior Airmen Pei-Xin Halverson and Andrew Ordaz; and
  • Cadet Airman Ethan Blank.

Participants from other units were:

Brackett Composite Squadron 64

  • Capt. Jim Bertz, deputy commander for seniors as well as California Wing transportation officer

Beach Cities Cadet Squadron 107

  • Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Giovanni Branaugh

March Field Composite Squadron 45

  • Cadet Tech. Sgt. Dylan Walker

Saddleback Composite Squadron 86

  • Cadet Chief Master Sgts.Tyler Barbisan and Andre Birkner

San Diego Cadet Squadron 144

  • Cadet 1st Lt. Mark Ferdinandwalters

San Fernando Cadet Squadron 137

  • Cadet Tech. Sgt. Dylan Effie-Hoy and Cadet Airman Kelly Marcicano