WARREN, Pa. – On Sunday, a special group of Civil Air Patrol cadets from Pennsylvania Group 6 received their Wright Brothers awards.
Receiving awards were Nicholas Wiler, Tyler Walton, Kyle Nelson, Rainyn Constable and Erica Nelson.
Cadets earn the award upon completing Phase I, “The Learning Phase,” consisting of the Cadet Program’s first three achievements. As such, the award recognizes excellence in all four areas of cadet life: leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character. In addition, Wright Brothers Award recipients have passed a challenging, closed-book examination testing leadership knowledge and proficiency in drills and ceremonies.
Group 6 Commander Col. Gary Fleming, who has been in the Civil Air Patrol for 19 years, was on hand to present the awards. Group Six consists of Squadrons from Warren, Armstrong, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Lawrence, Crawford, and Venango Counties.
“What motivates me is the cadets and seeing them be successful with what we’re able to teach them,” Fleming said.
Fleming touched on all aspects of being a cadet but said that STEM educational opportunities offered are incredibly beneficial.
“A lot of our youth, that’s going to be the future,” Fleming said. “We do a heavy-duty STEM program. The leadership that they get no matter what they do in life, having that stability and leadership that they learn means a lot of them can get a better job. Whether that’s going into the military or into the business world.”
The three pillars are emergency services, cadet programs, and aerospace education.
“Aerospace right now, with a shortage of pilots commercially and militarily, there’s a lot of scholarships and a lot of things available to them in that area,” Fleming said.
But no matter what line of work they ultimately go into, Fleming is proud of the cadets and watching them grow as people and as leaders.
“These cadets, I’ve watched a number of them grow in the program since they joined,” Fleming said. “I was with them at the camp that we helped with at the Crawford County Fair. We did all the parking and ticket booths and everything for the county. These cadets were phenomenal.
“To promote them today, that’s the validation for me. That’s what we want to see, these cadets being successful.”
Fleming said that about 10% of cadets go on to a career in the military.
“We don’t push it, that they go into the military, but this offers them that opportunity,” Fleming said. “We’re under the umbrella of the United States Air Force, which gives them a lot of benefits.”