Air Cadets to take off here

Local youths who dream of soaring through the skies in jet planes will have something to look forward to as the Rainy Lake Air Cadet Squadron #908 holds registration for the first time here tomorrow night (Sept. 18).
Registration gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Sports Centre, and is open to youths aged 12-18 free of charge.
Arend Visser, director of the Air Cadet League of Northwestern Ontario, said this is the first time an air cadet squadron has been set up in Fort Frances.
“There have been a number of people who have been trying to get this going for several years,” he said yesterday.
A parents’ committee has been working for months to bring Air Cadets to this area in hopes of offering local youths a way to gain valuable skills.
Meeting each Wednesday from 6:30-9 p.m., the cadets will have the opportunity to learn everything from parading skills to the basics of navigation, jet rocket propulsion, and aircraft operation.
They also get the chance to take flying lessons during their time with the program.
Visser, who himself is an ex-air force member who served with N.A.T.O. in Germany for two years, said there are a number of ways in which youths benefit from joining air cadets.
“I think they will be taught a structured approach to life, citizenship skills, and learn co-operation with each other,” he remarked. “They will reap personal benefits of raised self-esteem, raised self-confidence, and learning to take initiative.”
Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau and Chris Hadfield, Olympic biathlete Myriam Bedard, Capt. Maryse Carmichael (the first female Snowbirds pilot), and former federal Industry minister Brian Tobin are just some of those who have come through the air cadet program.
There currently are 448 squadrons in Canada and as of June, 1999, there were 25,125 air cadets.
To get a local squadron up and running, Visser said they need to have at least 30 kids sign up. Already 10 youths have shown interested in joining.
The fledgling program also has received funding support from a number of local organizations, including the Moffat Family Fund, Kiwanis Club, Legion Ladies Auxiliary Br. #29.
The Royal Canadian Legion Br. #29 has volunteered to act as the sponsor for the group.
Visser said they also have received support and encouragement from the air cadets based in Atikokan.
“To finally see this happening, this is just great,” Visser enthused.