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High Flight

High Flight 3.0 is the current version of the

Spirit Squadron Newsletter

All members are invited to submit articles for this periodic newsletter. 


Spirit Squadron Graduates its First Great Start Class

By Michael Roger Saul, First Lieutenant, CAP

Albuquerque, NM: On January 23, 2020, Albuquerque Heights Composite Squadron (Spirit Squadron) completed its first, ever, Great Start Graduation Ceremony.  The ceremony culminated eight weeks of training, led by Major John H Brennan, the squadron Cadet Program Officer. Cadets enrolled in the Great Start program had been sworn in to the Civil Air Patrol leadership program by early December and were working together, as a class, to complete their first promotion stripe. Graduating cadets were: Cadet Ariman Andrew Gallegos, Cadet Airman Abagail Henry, Cadet Airman Emery Byers, Cadet Airman Joseph Keleher, and Cadet Airman Gabriel Wusziewski. Absent on the date of graduation, but graduating two weeks later, was Cadet Airman Nicholas Mora. 

The Great Start program is a format of training that involves bringing all new cadets together into one group, and keeping those cadets together until they have mastered the material necessary for Leadership Chapter 1 and Drill 1. Once the group has accomplished this task, learned their cadet oath and attended their Wingman course, they are then eligible to earn their first achievement--the Curry Achievement, which is their first stripe. While learning together, the group grows in esprit de corps and strengthens in foundations of leadership. When asked how his entrance into the Civil Air Patrol as a new cadet was, Cadet Airman Byers said, the Great Start class "was very informative, and I was able to learn a lot through the various teaching techniques.  The cadets who taught the course were great!" Cadet Airman Byers. 

Major John Brennan, an active Air Force Lieutenant, has been actively involved with the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Programs, since he converted from a Spaatz cadet in 2013 to the present day.  His experience has been invaluable to Spirit Squadron, which is clearly evident by the graduation of the squadron's first Great Start class. C/TSgt Aiden Jones and C/TSgt Sarah Roth assisted Major Brennan as cadet instructors for the class.


My Amazing Experience at the GTM3 Academy!   

 By Jessamine Wignall, Cadet Airman, CAP

     ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As soon as I heard about the GTM3 class, I started to     assemble my 24 hour pack right away. I got a little too excited   and put together a 72   hour pack instead. When I arrived at the class I   signed in and sat down at a table near   the front. I looked around the room   to see a dozen cadets from a variety of different   squadrons with small   camouflage backpacks staring at my brother and I with our   gigantic 72   hour packs that were half our size. When the class started the first thing   that Lt Col Eckert talked about was our packs and how we shouldn’t put too much   weight in them because this is what we will be wearing all weekend. He also went over   what to do when we signed in. We had to have our CAP ID card, 101 cards and some   other paperwork.

 On the second day I took some extra stuff out of my pack and it was much lighter. We   arrived at class and there on the table next to the sign in sheet were three boxes full of doughnuts. I grabbed two and sat down at the table to eat them. The first thing we talked about was how to treat hot and cold injuries. It was interesting to learn symptoms and treatments for things like heat exhaustion, hypothermia and frostbite.

Then we did exercises on boxing a compass, we went outside and used our compasses to find the bearing of an object or a place on a map. After about 30 minutes in the sun we went inside to eat lunch. I had a sandwich with pickles and bacon. After lunch a student suggested that we run a lap around the building. Unfortunately the Col took them seriously and we ran four! My feet started to hurt and I quit during the fourth lap. It turned out that my boots were too small. A cadet from Eagle squadron went with me inside to help me to get new ones. I came back outside and there on the ground was a litter. They showed us how to pick it up if an injured person was in it: lift to the knees, lift, lift to the hips, lift. Then a student got in and we carried him around the building. We also used an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) to track a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).

On the last day when we arrived at the classroom we checked over our packs. We needed to have a compass, signal mirror, two quarts of water, a whistle, an MRE and a ground team member handbook. After all the packs were checked we were assigned to jobs. I was asked to be a log keeper for van #21 and another cadet was a log keeper for van #18, and another was assigned to be the medic. We drove out to the field and began the first exercise which was a line search. A line search is when you form a line and walk until you find what you are looking for. We did this again but rotated slowly instead of walking forward. (Photo by Mary Fox, Major)

tarps, a wagon and a piece of plastic. There was also a PLB under the wing. Nearby was a man with a horrible head injury. He claimed to be dead. We laid him into the litter and carried him back to the van. When we got back to base the “dead guy” said that he really enjoyed the litter ride and that it was very smooth and went well.

Soon we received a call about a missing hiker named Tanya Jones. She wore a blue cap, jeans, a gray T-shirt and tennis shoes. There was also a helper who matched the description perfectly except her name wasn’t Tanya Jones and she was not the subject. We did a line search and soon found a paper hidden in a bottle which said that she was OK and ran away with a guy called Todd. We ate our MRE lunch and got another call that said a PLB signal was going off and that there was also a plane crash in the area.

We started another line search when a cadet pointed out a tarp structure in the distance. We (Lieutenant Neal and I) ran over. There on the ground was a plane made out of two 

tarps, a wagon and a piece of plastic. There was also a PLB under the wing. Nearby was a man with a horrible head injury. He claimed to be dead. We laid him into the litter and carried him back to the van. When we got back to base the “dead guy” said that he really enjoyed the litter ride and that it was very smooth and went well.

My favorite part was when I kept the log. It was fun and I didn’t have to help carry the ELTs or litter too much because I was carrying a clipboard the whole time.

Overall I loved the whole experience and will definitely go again.


Last updated 12-22-23

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