The first order of business was a FOD walk. The cadets assembled at the ramp where the WWII bombers were displayed. They formed in a line to sweep the ramp of any foreign objects or debris that could be launched by the starting of the bombers powerful engines. The cadets assisted airport security personnel to move spectators to a safe viewing area. The cadets then formed and held a security line at the north edge of the area to keep people from wandering into the area when the giant propellers began to turn as the B17’s and then the B25’s engines started.
One by one the engines coughed, the propellers turned and finally roared to life. The aircrews completed the pre-flight and engine start procedures. The B17 revved up its four 1200hp engines and slowly turned toward the taxiway for takeoff. The B25 followed, the roar from its four 1700hp engines was nearly deafening. The historic aircraft taxied out, holding short of the main runway. One after the other, the four-engine bombers pulled onto the main runway, accelerated to rotation speed and lifted gracefully into the blue morning sky.
The cadets smiled and pointed, looking on in appreciation, as each bomber roared past them and the spectators on their first morning sortie. The cadets would be called again later in the day to help secure the bomber ramp for other sorties.
The cadets also provided support to U.S. Customs located on the airport to help direct ground traffic in the ramp area to maintain safe operations area for inbound aircraft. Officer Muenchausen, from the Naples Customs and Border Protection, has requested assistance from the CAP squadron for previous events.
Muenchausen requested the cadets to assemble at his office for a briefing. Only two members in the group had previous experience with this duty so a quick review ensured that each person was clear on his or her duties.
Sgt McIntire used his hand-held radio to alert the team to the first plane’s arrival. The cadets quickly took up their assigned position and cordoned off an area for the aircraft to park. Once the plane departed, the cadets resumed other duties. The cadets returned and repeated these actions for several more aircraft during the day.
In appreciation for the day of volunteer service, the Collins Foundation graciously allowed all of the CAP members a chance climb aboard the bombers for an up-close tour of these magnificent flying machines.
The air show is one of many community service projects the CAP cadets participate in each year. Citizens serving communities is more than a slogan to Naples cadets, it is a core value which drive their duty.