Two Florida Squadrons Work Together to Help Cadets Soar
By 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll, SRQ Composite Squadron, Florida Wing | Publish: 3/21/2017

Photo: Cadet Melissa Nepomuseno-grez (left) and Civil Air Patrol pilot 1st Lt. Thomas Frank (right) prepare for a Cadet Orientation Flight. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll, CAP)

Sarasota, Fla. -- On 18 March 2017, four cadets from the Venice Cadet Squadron, joined by their Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. Rita Cucchiara, joined cadets and senior members from the SRQ Composite Squadron for a day of Cadet Orientation Flights.

“Our relationship with the SRQ Composite Squadron is extremely helpful,” Cucciara said. “We have a smaller cadet squadron and it’s good for our cadets to have the opportunity to interact with other cadets and share experiences.”  She noted the relationship allows cadets from both squadrons to gain insights and work to expand team-building skills.

In addition to orientation flights, the two squadrons have worked closely on first aid training, a winter bivouac, and Wreaths Across America.

Saturday’s flight held particular significance for an SRQ Composite Squadron cadet. Cadet Melissa Nepomuseno-grez, who has been a CAP member for only a month, had her very first airplane flight on Saturday. The eighth grader from Sarasota Middle School, who thinks she might like to pursue an aviation career, said she joined CAP so she could have more activities outside of home and school.

The Cadet Orientation Flight Program, through a series of five flights, introduces cadets to the use of flight controls; how the effects of lift, drag and gravity affect an airplane; how to perform basic flight maneuvers; how to maintain a safe flying environment; and how weather impacts flight. Best of all, cadets get to take the controls and actually fly the airplane. Senior member pilots in the squadron receive training to help them share their knowledge with cadets.

Upon return from her flight, Nepomuseno-grez said, “It was amazing! I want to do it again. Everything seems so small up there.”

CAP’s cadet program introduces young people, from ages 12 through 21, to aviation. Cadets progress at their own pace through a 16-step program including aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness and moral leadership. Cadets compete for academic scholarships to further their studies in fields such as engineering, science, aircraft mechanics, aerospace medicine, meteorology, and many others. Those cadets who earn cadet officer status may enter the Air Force as an E3 (airman first class) rather than an E1 (airman basic).

Based at the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, the SRQ Composite Squadron is one of more than 1,700 Civil Air Patrol squadrons across the nation. The SRQ Composite Squadron includes 98 members: 60 senior members and 38 cadets. Members put general aviation to its best use, dedicated to saving lives, flying counter-drug missions, participating in homeland security efforts, providing disaster relief, advancing young people, and supporting America’s educators. For information about the SRQ Composite Squadron of CAP, visit


SRQ Composite Squadron pilot Maj. Benjamin Moore (right) guides Venice Cadet Aidan Freihaut (left) through the preflight inspection prior to a Cadet Orientation Flight. (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll, CAP)

This article was produced from the Southeast Region Online News system. Electronic distribution is made possible through syndicated services. For more information, contact the Chief Editor Lt Col Judy Steele at