Pa. Wing Gains 1st Cadet sUAS Mission Pilot
Capt. Matthew Chirik
Public Affairs Officer
The Pennsylvania Wing’s first cadet Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) mission pilot hopes to use his interests to help to save lives.
Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Mark D. Sedlak II of Butler Composite Squadron 712 received his mission pilot rating during a training mission at Lenape Technical School in Ford City, adding the new rating to the Drone Part 107 commercial license he has held since age 16.
“With the help of my grandfather, a certified flight instructor, I have been flying drones since I was 2,” Sedlak said. He’s also working toward his private pilot’s certificate with the aid of an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association scholarship and hopes to achieve it during the holiday break at Penn State Behrend, where he’s a freshman.
Sedlak is studying mechanical engineering and has a long-term goal of designing a drone specifically for search and rescue. “I want to put my skills to good use and help to find people,” he said.
The cadet was introduced to Civil Air Patrol’s sUAS propgram at Hawk Mountain Ranger School in March 2019. He then set out to complete the necessary readings and exams through both CAP and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“FEMA training took about 40 hours and the rest from 20-30 hours,” he said.
“I’m into anything RC (radio controlled) plus 3D printing (making special parts for my drones) and was active in the Robotics Club in high school,” Sedlak said. He has applied to join the college Robotics Club and is working to start a campus aviation club.
His father, 2nd Lt. Mark D. Sedlak, has qualified to serve as the technician on the two-member mission flight team. The elder Sedlak, transportation officer for the Butler squadron, expects to eventually follow his son in completing the requirements for an sUAS mission pilot rating.