Wilson, Secretary of Air Force, Visits CAP Members at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Natl. Blue Beret Cadets Also Hear From Air Show Legend Tucker
One visitor in particular to Civil Air Patrol’s recruiting booth at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh stood out this week among the crowds of thousands attending what has long been one of the world’s largest air shows.
Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Heather Wilson made a point of dropping by the booth during her trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for AirVenture. She met with CAP’s national commander, Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, and Col. Rose Hunt, Wisconsin Wing commander, as well as senior members and cadets providing support for the air show as part of National Blue Beret, one of CAP’s annual National Cadet Special Activities.
Vazquez showed Wilson some of the cutting-edge features inside a CAP Cessna 182 equipped with Garmin G1000 capability on display at the recruiting booth. She is a an instrument-related private pilot who flies a Cessna 152
Wilson’s ties to Civil Air Patrol date back two generations. Her grandfather, George G. “Scotty” Wilson, signed on as the fourth member ever of the New Hampshire Wing after CAP’s founding on Dec. 1, 1941. He commanded the Keene, New Hampshire, squadron and subsequently served as the wing’s training and operations and executive officer before ultimately becoming New Hampshire Wing commander in 1948.
National Blue Beret is held for two weeks every summer in conjunction with AirVenture Oshkosh, which annually draws about 500,000 people and more than 10,000 aircraft. This year it’s staffed by 150 cadets and 53 senior members from 44 states. The CAP members contribute over 4,000 volunteer hours in flight line operations and emergency services and assist the EAA as needed. Fourteen aircraft and 20 vehicles stand ready to support an actual search and rescue mission.
In coordination with Blue Beret, the Wisconsin Wing has established mission bases in Fond du Lac, Appleton, Oshkosh and Sheboygan to provide search and rescue assistance if tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.
Wilson’s visit highlighted a week that had already included an appearance by another high-profile aviator — acrobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker. The air show legend encountered an enrapt audience when he spoke to the cadets volunteering at AirVenture.
Tucker provided the cadets with a behind-the-scenes look at his job and career. “Dream in Technicolor,” he urged his young listeners in describing the path he took more than four decades ago to become a sought-after performer at events across the globe.
Cadet 2nd Lt. Douglas Denny, a member of the New York Wing’s Lt. Anthony L. Willsea Cadet Squadron, took Tucker’s words to heart.
From listening to the famed flier’s presentation, "more than anything, I learned what it means to be a real aviator," Denny said. “He looks, acts and flies like the real deal. It feels really important to meet someone like that and be able to shake their hand.
“He helped me understand the true spirit of aviation,” the cadet added. “I believe Sean D. Tucker is so impressive, because he believes anything is possible, and he shows the world that belief is true.”
The 2008 National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee is sponsored by the Oracle Corp.; he performs as part of Team Oracle at air shows. His yearly appearances at AirVenture climbed to a new level in 2013 when he was named chairman of the EAA’s Young Eagles program, which is devoted to introducing and educating youth 8-17 to aviation.
“Thank you for the job you guys do here,” Tucker told his CAP audience. “Without you volunteering your time and energy, this air show would not go on.”