Seniors and Cadets Work Together to Spruce up Squadron Building
Filed under Florida Wing on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 by Author: Lt Col Joyce Nader, Pinellas Senior Sq., Florida Wing.

Photo:  FL 066 cadets helping with cleanup

Dateline:   October 18, 2014,  Albert Whitted Airport

By:   Joyce Nader, Lt Col, PAO, Legal Officer, FL 182

Pinellas Senior Squadron members and St. Petersburg Cadet Squadron members teamed up on October 4, 2014, to spruce up the Unit’s building  located at Albert Whitted Airport.

Eager to get to work,  seniors and cadets met early that morning to share work duties to clean up the grounds around the building. There was a light rain which delayed the start of the joint work project.

Cadets and seniors enjoyed juice, coffee and pastries while they waited for the clouds to break and the rain to stop.

Maj Adrian Cuarta and Lt Ronalee Klase came together to schedule the work party for the benefit of both squadrons.  Maj Cuarta was pleased at the turnout, and said he “enjoyed the collegiality and commraderie and spirit of the group in working together to achieve a common goal.”

He said it was heartening to work with the young cadets and their unit commander Lt Klase, and said “their enthusiasm and work ethic was contagious.”

“Everyone worked hard and broke a sweat and got their hands and elbows dirty”, according to Lt Col McConnell.

Barbara Fernald, spouse of Lt Col Larry Fernald, was the “chef” for the day, grilling  burgers and hot dogs with all the fixings  for the hungry crowd.

The joint work day was a successful effort, and another one will be scheduled soon.



You can add additional photos down here.  Refer to SER Pamphlet 102, Online News Administration and System Guide for details. 

CAP Members Join Worldwide Effort To Cleanup Beaches
Filed under Puerto Rico Wing, Group 8 on Sunday, October 5, 2014 by Author: Puerto Rico Wing Public Affairs.

Photo:  Puerto Rico Wing members join thousands of people around the world to clean the ocean's beaches. (photos by Group 8 PRWG)

PUERTO RICO - On September 20, 2014, members from Civil Air Patrol’s Puerto Rico Wing joined several groups to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup campaign. This was the second year that cadets from the Manati Cadet Squadron and Colonel Clara E. Livingston Cadet Squadron helped their community by removing plastic, cans and other garbage from local beaches.

The day started with plenty of sun in the morning, then a downpour came” said Capt Pablo Jimenez, Group 8-PRWG Recruiting and Retention Officer, “everyone got wet, but we completed the mission.”

International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is a global project coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy. According to the United Nations Environment Program website, the “beach clean-ups and campaigns are aimed at removing marine debris and collecting information on the amounts and types of litter in beaches, waterways, parks, markets, roadsides and schools. The garbage is removed for a more responsible and healthier disposal and, where possible, recycling or reuse of the material retrieved is encouraged.”

The CAP NHQ strategic plan encourages CAP units to use community service projects to enhance awareness of CAP and promote a sense of civic duty among its members.

Univision Puerto News Story

Pinellas Senior and St. Petersburg Cadet squadrons hold first joint meeting.
Filed under Florida Wing, Group 3 on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 by Author: Lt Col Joyce Nader, Pinellas Senior Sq., Florida Wing.

Photo:  Type photo caption here.

Dateline:  September 22, 2014

By: Joyce Nader, Lt Col, PAO, Legal Officer, FL  182


St. Petersburg Cadet Squadron, FL 066, and Pinellas Senior Squadron, FL 182, Civil Air Patrol, held its first joint meeting on Monday night, September 22, 2014, at the Unit’s building housed on Albert Whitted  Airport.

FL 182 Commander, Maj Adrian Cuarta, and Lt Ron Klem, Cadet Liaison for FL 182,  coordinated the first ever joint meeting with FL 066 Commander, Lt Ronalee Klase,  to include a program on Emergency Services, as well as pizza for the cadets and their senior sponsors.

In attendance was  Maj Jim Peto, Deputy Commander of Group 3, along with over 30 cadets and senior members from both units.

The meeting opened with the FL 066 cadets performing their drills, followed by pizza and soft drinks, and then the program.

The FL 066 cadet drills included mustering in formation, uniform inspection, and a promotion ceremony.  Cadet Airman Lance Kreitzer was promoted to Cadet Airman 1st Class, with Maj Peto, Maj Cuarta, and Lt Klase participating in the ceremony, while the cadets stood at attention, in formation, and the seniors looked on.

The   Emergency Services program was conducted by Lt Col Larry Fernald, as assisted by Lt Col Larry McConnell,  Maj Dan Antrim, and Maj Cuarta, who each participated in the search and rescue mission that was the subject of their program.   Their program centered on a real life search and rescue effort for a missing aircraft that took place in April, 2014, over central Florida. They took the cadets through the mission process, from inception to conclusion, and also fielded a myriad of thoughtful questions from the young cadets. 

When asked if the joint meeting proved worthwhile, Cadet Airman 1st Class Jonathon Klase, one of the grandsons of Lt Klase in attendance, said, “It brings two generations together, the cadets with the new ideas, and the seniors with the experience.” This sentiment was also echoed by the Group 3 Deputy Commander, Maj Peto.

Ron Klem, newly minted senior member and the cadet liaison, was a former cadet. He brought his young son to the meeting in hopes his son will join when he is eligible. SM Klem said he spent 4 years as a cadet, and that “it is invaluable in that it gives me a perspective as a senior and cadet liaison on what the cadets do, and how we can help as seniors with our knowledge and experience.”

Lt Klase hopes for participation by her cadets in upcoming SAREX exercises,  as well as regular meetings.  Maj Cuarta also gave a thumbs up to the whole affair, as did the entire audience, who clapped with vigor at the end of the  program.  The joint meeting proved to be a very rewarding experience for both squadrons, and more are planned for the future.

You can add additional photos down here.  Refer to SER Pamphlet 102, Online News Administration and System Guide for details. 

Who is Florida Wing’s new commander Col Irizarry?
Filed under Florida Wing, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7, Florida Feature on Sunday, September 21, 2014 by Author: Lt Col Joyce Nader, Pinellas Senior Sq., Florida Wing.

Photo:  Col. Irizarry, Florida Wing Commander

Who is Florida Wing’s new commander Col Irizarry?

Dateline: September, 13, 2014, South Lakeland Composite Squadron, FL 466: Group 3 Wing CC Town Hall Meeting and Group 3 Commander’s Call

By: Joyce Nader, Lt Col, PAO, PIO (T), Legal Officer

Vision, Passion, Respect, Goals, Morale, Transparency, Accountability, Motivated, Ebullient, Pragmatic, Direct, Friendly, Candid, Responsive, Prepared, Communicative, Warm...all words that describe Florida Wing’s young and dynamic commander Col Henry Irizarry.

Col Irizarry spoke to a packed audience of over 50 seniors and cadets from around Group 3 for almost 2 hours to share his vision about Florida Wing’s future, to take questions and engage the participants, and to address their issues and concerns.

The Group 3 Town Hall meeting and Commander’s Call was hosted by the Commander for FL 466, South Lakeland Composite Squadron, 1st Lt Brett Kibbey, as planned, organized and supported by Maj Jennifer Richards, FL 466 Personnel, Professional Development, and Finance Officer, and Maj Jim Peto, Group 3 Deputy Commander.

Hot coffee, juices, fresh fruit, and pastries greeted the participants, arriving early from around Group 3, which encompasses a large geographical territory on Florida Wing’s west coast.

Col Irizarry, when asked why he is conducting these town hall meetings with all the groups in the Florida Wing in his first 6 months of tenure as Wing Commander, he stressed that “it is important to open the lines of communication…to hear the concerns…to connect…and to make every effort to fix the problems. I have been asked tough questions…and I am trying to find answers…to have an open door policy.”

He stated that being responsive in a timely manner was one of the biggest concerns raised around the Wing. He has made it his policy to respond in 48 hours or less…and to contact the Wing’s Legal and Finance officer, if needed on an issue, in less than 24 hours. Quick indeed. He maintains a computerized calendar and tickler file to aide him in accomplishing this goal.

Col Irizarry also stressed that he wants seniors and cadets to feel confident in his decision-making, that it is supported by evidence and facts, and is not ad hoc or based on whim or favoritism.

Group 3 Deputy Commander Maj Peto opened the Town Hall, followed by the FL 466 Color Guard, and the Invocation presented by Chaplain Robert Atchley.

Maj Lampasona, Group 3 Commander, made some brief remarks, and then introduced Col Irizarry.

Setting the tone for the day, Col Irizarry opened with his “mandated” statement on Respect, one of the guiding principles he has instituted around the Wing.

He briefly presented his own biography, so the audience would understand his background, and how it helped him shape his vision for Florida Wing’s future. He was a former cadet, starting in 1985, having achieved one of the highest honors for cadets, the Eaker award. Col Irizarry also spent 21 years active duty in the military, serving as a unit commander during his military tenure.

His philosophy on leadership is simple…”get out, meet people, let people know what you think, get feedback, act.” He emphatically stated, “how can I fix things, unless I know what is wrong.” He went on to state that, along with the 3 Civil Air Patrol missions, he wants to reinvigorate the areas of Professional Development and the all important mission of Safety.

Issues that he touched on that he would like to accomplish during his tenure include reimbursement for travel associated with SUIs; establishing Florida Wing’s own NESA, with the first Emergency Services Academy set for December 2014 at Avon Park, focusing on ground teams, which will be followed by a mission base and aircrew Emergency Services Academy in June 2015. Safety workshops will be conducted around the Wing by the Wing Safety Officer. There will also be regularly scheduled Professional Development courses, with one having just been held over Labor Day weekend at Patrick Air Force base in Cocoa Beach.

Col Irizarry stressed that any activity or event should be meaningful to the members, and have a relevant purpose. Accordingly, he mentioned that the Professional Development Capstone courses are being tweaked to better serve the members. He also outlined his vision for needed training being offered in connection with the upcoming Florida Wing conference scheduled for May 2015, including pre-conference courses such as ICS 300 and 400, the SAR course, and other often requested courses involving in depth training and skill proficiency.

He also relayed that the Wing website is undergoing some much needed updates to make it more user friendly. He talked at length about Wing funding and finances, and discussed funding for certain aircrew proficiencies.

Col Irizarry urged that “undocumented requirements and policies hurt the membership. People need to know what is expected…they can’t guess…so if it is a policy, it needs to be in writing. We can’t make it up as we go.”

Taking care of our resources was another theme urged by the Wing Commander, as “these are not readily replaceable: radios, vans, computer, aircraft. And if you don’t use it, you lose it!” He went on to discuss the policy of assessing members or units for damaged or lost equipment and the appeals process.

Col Irizarry emphasized, “We are one team! Let’s break down the barriers and work together.”

In closing, before taking questions, he wanted the members to know that “morale is very important to me. The morale of the unit is a direct reflection on the commander. And I want to boost the morale of the CAP corps of the Wing.”

An extensive question and answer session followed, covering a myriad of topics by the senior and cadet participants in the room.

Col Irizarry, a passionate, fair-minded leader with a comprehensive vision for Florida Wing’s future, a bright future under his able leadership.

Lifelong Pilot Continues To Live His Dream
Filed under Group 5 on Saturday, September 20, 2014 by Author: Group 5 Public Affairs, Florida Wing.

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Few people really ever fulfill their childhood dreams of growing up and becoming a full-time, professional pilot . . . but Jim Kaletta was one of them. Not only did he become a pilot, he became, and remains, a major contributor to aviation technology and leadership.

For Jim, his dream of flying began at the age of 11 at the Sky Harbor Airport, near Buffalo, New York.  His father had recently purchased a J-3 Cub, followed by a Cessna 140, and later a Piper 18.  So you could say Jim was nearly born into the world of aviation. Jim joined the Civil Air Patrol at the age of 12 as a cadet. He soloed when he was 16 and received his private pilot certificate exactly one year later on this 17th birthday. When he turned 18, he qualified on multi-engine, commercial aircraft and instrument flying.

Jim had to attain hours of flight instruction by working around the airport.  In this case, it was Steffan Field (now Clarence Aerodrome).  He quickly received his Commercial, Instrument, multi-engine and Seaplane rating.   

After graduating from Burgard Vocational High School in 1955 with airframe and power plant ratings, Jim wrote letters to all of the major airlines seeking employment as a pilot.  Turned down because he was under 21 years old, Jim was not willing to wait.  He managed to secure a night-shift desk job with Capital Airlines, which later merged with and became United Airlines.  His duties included doing weight and balances and crew scheduling.   

It was not long before United Airlines management recognized Jim's talent and zeal for aviation, so they sent him to Washington, DC for flight training, followed by assignment as one of the company's only two pilots who were still under the age of 20.  Over the next several years, Jim quickly accrued lots of hours flying the line for United. 

"The experience was great,” says Kaletta, “but the pay was miserable."   Jim solved the low pay problem by securing a job flying freight for Airlift International for twice his former pay.  He transferred to Miami and began making daily runs throughout the Caribbean and the eastern seaboard. 

Life was becoming quite good for Jim until, sadly, his father past away.  He returned to Buffalo to settle family matters.  It was during this time that Jim was invited to join Scott Aviation, a Buffalo-based aviation supply company.  His piloting skill and experience, coupled with an engaging personality, was just what Scott Aviation needed to boost their sales.  He quickly became their number one salesman, flying around the country taking orders in a Piper Comanche 250 and later a PA-30 Twin Comanche.  His remarkable sales accomplishments ultimately led to his promotion to vice president and general manager, and eventually company president.

During Jim's tenure, Scott Aviation saw its sales skyrocket from $3 million to more than $125 million annually. Soon, the business employed more than 1,000 employees.  While running Scott Aviation, Jim provided piloting services for the nearby Carborundum Company as well.   In this capacity, he flew Beech E-18s, Lear jets, and eventually the HS-125, averaging over 30 hours each month in the air.   Still not getting enough flying time in to suit his needs, Jim purchased a Piper Arrow, which was later lost in a hangar fire at the Buffalo Airfield. He then owned a Piper Twin Comanche, a Navion Range Master and a Piper Twin Geronimo. 

Jim was running a major corporation, doing a corporate work with a neighboring corporation, serving in the National Guard, and buying and maintaining his own series of airplanes.  During all this activity, he managed to secure ratings in helicopters, Lear jets, a British 125-400 and 700 aircraft, along with logging over 10,000 pilot-in-command hours.  While these would have been regarded as significant accomplishments, Jim went on to secure a U.S. Coast Guard Commercial Captains license for ships up to 200 tons.  He also managed to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business, followed by graduate studies in marketing, antitrust trade, specialized training in counter intelligence, labor relations, and leadership skills development.

Jim is the consummate over-achiever.  Not only did he become an accomplished pilot, educated professional, and a local captain of industry, he went on to hold leadership posts as president of the Aviation Distributors and Manufactures Association, the Air Force Association, and the Buffalo Aero Club.  He also served on the boards of directors of the Niagara Falls Air show and the Buffalo Launch Club.  If all this were not enough, Jim volunteered his time as an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles pilot, Commander in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and as a Federal Aviation Administration Lead Safety Team (FAAST) member in both Buffalo and Florida. In August 2005, the FAA Presented Jim the government's highest award, The Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award.” To earn this honor, a pilot must have 50 years of flying with no safety violations. To date, less than 3,000 pilots have been named to the honor roll.

Jim is a member of the Quiet Birdman (QBs), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Aerospace Medical Association, National Business Aircraft Association and  the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA).  In 1991, Jim was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall of Fame.  As for Jim's hobbies, it is no surprise that flying is listed as number one.

From October 2005 until November 2012, Jim was the commander of Charlotte County Composite Squadron FL-051. Under the guidance of Jim and his staff, the unit has garnished numerous awards and accolades making it the premier squadron in Southwest Florida. 

With its headquarters at the Punta Gorda Airport Group 5 currently is composed of 240 cadets and 327 senior members. Since its inception in 1949, as a civilian auxiliary component of the U.S. Air Force, FL-051 has not only prepared itself but has performed numerous duties in the wake of a natural disaster.           

In November 2012, Jim was chosen as the deputy commander of Group 5 which encompasses 10 squadrons from Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. With their four aircraft, three vans, and communications equipment, the Group can literally become the eyes and ears of Charlotte County in the wake of a hurricane. 

“Before a hurricane we will take photos through special windows from one of our planes,” Jim said. “We have certified photographers that will also take photos after a storm, so we can assess the damage.” 

Recently, the squadron was joined by Naples, Sarasota and Marco, and federal and state agencies, to participate in a three-day mock drill to train emergency managers for the upcoming hurricane season. It was a worst case scenario involving two fictitious storms, “Hurricane Lay” and “Hurricane Kirk,” that were supposed to make landfall somewhere in Florida. 

Jim, who coordinated Group 5 during the training, said that the state CAPs racked up some very impressive numbers. They had nearly 79 hours of flight time, 103 personnel had more than 2,700 man hours of time, and 13 aircraft had 51 sorties that took more than 1,700 photographs. 

“About 150 out of the 328 senior members of Group 5 are pilots,” he said. “The rest play equally important roles as radio operators, observers, scanners, and administrators.”

In addition to coordinating the disaster preparedness schedule, Jim has encouraged many of the squadron’s cadets to attend as many of the CAP schools as possible to better prepare themselves for the future. 

One such is the Florida Wing Cadet Honor Society. Since its inception in 1997, 30,000 cadets have tried to gain admittance into the prestigious group. However, only 377 have been successful – and 5 of those are members of FL-051. Cadets have successfully graduated from the arduous two-week Ground Search and Rescue School at Camp Atterbury in Edinburg, Indiana as well. The school is part of the CAP National Emergency Services Academy. 

New York and Florida are proud to have men like Jim Kaletta who not only served as pioneers in aviation, but who continues to be role models for a whole new generation of pilots.  He remains active in numerous aviation organizations, particularly with the Civil Air Patrol, where he takes delight in introducing young people to aviation and encouraging them as they endeavor to follow in his remarkable footsteps.

This article first appeared as a Pilot Profile in "Wonderful World of Flight".

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