SRQ Composite Squadron Cadets and Senior Members Tour NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
By Cadet/Sr. Airman Natalie Putman, SRQ Composite Squadron | Publish: 8/15/2017

Photo: Fifteen cadets from the SRQ Composite Squadron of CAP tour Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (Photo Credit: Capt. Ann Marie Kozloski, CAP)

Sarasota, Fla. -- On July 28-30, fifteen cadets and six senior members from the SRQ Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) spent three days and two nights at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral, getting an insider’s tour of the facilities and learning about America’s space program.

Cadet/Airman 1st Class Matthew Downer said of the experience, “I furthered my friendships with other cadets and learned a lot about the shuttle program.” Cadet/Airman Melissa Nepomuseno-grez added, “I learned about the safety precautions scientists and astronauts needed to take when launching rockets and the space shuttles.”

On Saturday, the group toured Kennedy Space Center by bus, saw the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) which is more than 500-feet tall, and launch pads 39 A and B, the launch platforms for the shuttles and SpaceX rockets. That bus tour ended at the Saturn V museum with the Apollo mission simulator of the firing room. The rest of the day at KSC included watching the IMAX movie and touring the Atlantis exhibit and simulator and the Mars rovers.  

The next day, cadets and senior members took a private bus tour of Cape Canaveral led by Lt. Col. Gary Dahlke, Director of Aerospace Education for the Florida Wing and a member of the TICO Composite Squadron in Titusville, Fla. Dahlke, an engineer with NASA, worked on the heat shield systems for the Space Shuttle program. The group received a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic Gemini, Mercury and Apollo launch pads, and the Mercury firing room.

Trips like this allow cadets to get hands-on experience and to learn more about the history and future of America’s space program than they could learn in a classroom. And, they build stronger friendships and create unforgettable memories.

This special experience is just one of the opportunities that students have through CAP’s cadet program. CAP cadets can experience survival training, flight training, photography, astronomy, model rocketry and more.  Each year, cadets participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level. Many cadets have the opportunity to fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Still others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.

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 101 members: 59 senior members and 42 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

Cadet/Sr. Airman Brandon Olson sits at the controls of a shuttle simulator. (Photo Credit: Capt. Ann Marie Kozloski, 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