16:15 PM

Washington Wing Promotes CAP at Airline's Alaska Aviation Day

Lt. Col. Jeffrey A. Lustick
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Washington Wing

Nearly 100 cadets from across the Washington Wing participated in the ninth annual Alaska Aviation Day at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, with Civil Air Patrol serving as a major event partner and exhibitor for the first time.

Originally the brainchild of Alaska Airlines pilot Allen Cassino, Alaska Aviation Day, held May 6 this year, has blossomed into a statewide convergence of flight schools, major and regional airlines, law enforcement aviation units, military aviators, Alaska Airlines, Port of Seattle, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing employees who volunteer their time. Including the Washington Wing cadets, the event drew over 1,200 young adults in high school and college, all enthusiastic about possible futures in aviation.

Spread across a massive maintenance hangar at SeaTac were three Alaska Airlines Boeing 737s, a brand-new Embraer E175 jetliner operated by Horizon Airlines, a U.S. Navy EF-18 Growler and two King County Sheriff’s Office helicopters. Engineers from Alaska Airlines and the Boeing Company stood next to gigantic jet engines and landing gear assemblies to demonstrate the function of these aircraft components.

An adjacent hangar contained at least two dozen other general aircraft, ranging from a vintage 1930s Ryan SCW taildragger made of all-brushed aluminum, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan from Kenmore Airlines, a Cessna 177 Cardinal owned by an Alaska Airlines captain, and two Diamond DA42 Twin Stars from area flight academies.

Maj. Ralph Black, Washington Wing director of operations, and wing mission pilot Lt Col Steve Bass flew into SeaTac from Bellingham, 100 miles to the north, in the wing’s new Cessna T206 Turbo Stationair. Aviation Day participants received guided tours of the aircraft from the pilots, who also took used the opportunity to encourage youth to join Civil Air Patrol.

In a main hallway of the hangar, nestled prominently next to college career counselors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Alaska at Anchorage Aviation Program, was CAP’s membership display table.

Lt. Col. Russ Garlow, the wing’s assistant aerospace education officer, and Maj. Mike Moore, wing recruiting and retention officer, were busy all day greeting visitors and handing out hundreds of posters, brochures and pamphlets to prospective new members. Helping out were 1st Lt. Victoria Wonser, wing assistant public affairs officer, and Cadet Col. Zachary Lam and Cadet 1st Lt, Hannah Kusman of the Peninsula Composite Squadron.

Capt. Jessica Jerwa, the wing’s public affairs office, said more than 100 members – about 20 senior members and 90 cadets – from 10 squadrons were represented at Aviation Day 2017, coming from as far away as Spokane, Bellingham and Yakima. Participants also came from the Boy and Girls Scouts, Air Force Junior ROTC and several area school districts.

The day began with a keynote presentation from Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh. Participants were shuttled a short distance from SeaTac to Alaska Airlines’ flight training headquarters, where they got to pilot a Boeing 737 flight simulator. They could also attend seminars on becoming an airline pilot, aviation engineer or air traffic controller.

The airline’s Flight Attendant Training area was also featured, putting cadets through a mock emergency evacuation drill, including a trip down the inflatable emergency escape chute. Each participant was given a special Aviation Day backpack and provided free lunch by Alaska Airlines.

Cassino was belatedly presented with the 2015 Washington Wing Frank G. Brewer Sr. CAP Memorial Aerospace Award by Col. James P. Furlong, Washington Wing commander, at the start of the daylong event.

“The purpose of Alaska Airlines' Aviation day is to inspire youth in our community and help them realize the potential of their abilities by creating a path to careers in aviation and aerospace,” Cassino said.

This marked the first year that a parallel event was scheduled for Oregon’s Portland International Airport as well.