The official launch of Bradford’s 37 Flight, a satellite of the 94 Newmarket Air Cadet Squadron, takes place this Saturday, but the 30 young cadets who have signed up have already met twice.
The idea is to start small and build up the Bradford Flight.
“We’ve got to build capacity,” explained Commanding Officer Maj. Stephen Case, a former vice principal at Fieldcrest Elementary School, where the cadets met.
The squadron will expand next year, with room for up to 140 young people. The cadets now in training “are going to be the leaders, the NCOs,” he said.
Most are at the young end of the age range for cadets, between the ages of 12 and 14.
The idea is to offer the program in Bradford West Gwillimbury, providing a local opportunity — especially since the sponsoring 94 Newmarket Air Cadet Squadron is currently at full complement and young people have had to go as far afield as Pefferlaw to enter the program.
“It’s really exciting,” said Case. “Bradford needs something like this.”
The cadets spend the evenings on parade or in the classroom getting to know each other, learning drills and the ins and outs of the cadet program, and eventually learning the principles of flight.
The program, at the start, “is very much hands-on and game-oriented,” said Case, but in three to four years “some of the kids will be flying gliders.”
The air cadet program for youth between the ages of 12 and 18 covers a range of activities, including survival skills, physical education and recreation, marksmanship, music and band, model building, technology, and aviation. It can be a point of entry for anyone considering a career in the Royal Canadian Air Force or as a pilot.
Right now, said Case, the Royal Canadian Air Force is short 275 pilots, and that number is expected to grow. “For kids wanting to be a pilot, this is the ideal time to start.”
The Bradford 37 Flight is an initiative of the Bradford branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Branch President Mike Giovanetti chairs the Squadron Sponsoring Committee, supporting the squadron, and veteran George Neilson is legion liaison.
The official launch of the air cadet squadron will take place at the legion at 115 Back St. in Bradford this Saturday.
There will be a parade from the Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre to the legion at 12:30 p.m., followed by a brief ceremony at the cenotaph and opening ceremonies at 1 p.m.
Dignitaries include York-Simcoe MPP and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, BWG Mayor Rob Keffer, John Nolan, chair of the Air Cadet League of Canada, Ontario Provincial Committee, and Maj. Mark Holowatyj, area elemental advisor (air), as well as representatives of RCL Ontario Command.
The community is invited to come out for the historic launch to support 37 Flight, which will be named in honour of the late Orville Hand, an Air Force veteran and long-time legionnaire.
Air cadets will be selling raffle tickets for prizes that include a 2019 Subaru Ascent Premier, and an hour’s flight for four aboard a Lancaster bomber from the Second World War.
The air cadet program provides uniforms and boots for each boy and girl at no charge, but the cadets are asked to undertake fundraising to help cover the costs.
Tickets for their fundraisers will be available at Saturday’s event. Pointing to the photo of cadets printed on the tickets, Case said proudly, “I trained those cadets.”