Commander at the Controls: Maine Cadets Fly with Phelka
It was blue skies and smiles all around for four Maine Wing cadets who experienced their first Civil Air Patrol orientation flights with the organization’s national commander and CEO, Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, in the pilot’s seat.
Phelka also provided ground instruction, oversaw preflight inspection, and discussed control surfaces with the four cadets – Cadet Staff Sgt. Jacob Dow, Cadet Senior Airmen Elliott Szarowski and Quinn Szarowski, and Cadet Airman Cooper Leonard. All belong to the 35th Composite Squadron.
The national commander conducted the flights while visiting the Maine Wing during its annual conference.
“The cadet experience I think is really important, to do all of the different things cadets have a chance to do,” Phelka said. “Giving orientation rides is one of my favorite things because I love creating those experiences [for cadets]. It’s a chance for me to continue to do that as a pilot; it’s one of my favorite things.
“As the national commander I come out for these conferences, but doing orientation rides gives me a chance to see more than just the people who come to the conference. I get to see the condition of the airplanes, I get to talk to flight release officers, I get to understand a lot more about a wing that I’m visiting,” he said.
“Plus the bonus is getting a chance to fly cadets.”
Quinn Szarowski found the experience “especially rewarding because my first two [orientation’ flights were cancelled due to unanticipated factors.”
“I enjoyed flying, I liked being in the air — it beats walking!” he said.
“I enjoyed a lot of the learning and I enjoyed especially being able to use the controls. I found it simply complicated,” Elliott Szarowski said.
Dow and Leonard both reported their favorite part of the flight was the touch and go's – brief landings followed by immediate takeoff.
2nd Lt. Amanda Goldman
Public Affairs Officer
35th Composite Squadron