Air Force F-22 Demo Team Meets with New Hampshire’s Civil Air Patrol Cadets
CONCORD — The U.S. Air Force’s Demonstration Team for one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world, the F-22 “Raptor,” spent several hours with more than 100 Civil Air Patrol cadets and airmen from across the Granite State. Through a virtual event hosted by the Civil Air Patrol’s unit in Concord, N.H., the cadets got to spend time learning more about the F-22 right from the source despite the pandemic and precautions that would otherwise prevent a learning opportunity of this kind.
Major Joshua Gunderson, commander of the United States Air Force F-22 Demonstration Team based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia, led the interactive discussion designed to showcase the aircraft and the team’s work. He was joined by First Lieutenant Samuel Eckholm, the team’s Public Affairs Officer. “Our mission on the demo team is to recruit, retain, and inspire the next generation,” said Lt. Eckholm. He explained that the changes brought about by COVID-19 necessitated adapting to continue this mission and virtual engagements were one of those adaptations.
“Our briefing with the New Hampshire CAP cadets was one of our favorite engagements so far,” said Lt. Eckholm. “The level of professionalism and enthusiasm from all cadets blew us away.” The response from the cadets was also overwhelmingly positive.
First Lieutenant Michael Rizzi, host of the virtual event and Civil Air Patrol squadron commander in Concord, was enthusiastic about how the virtual engagement was received. “It was an engaging dialogue and exposed the cadets to the F-22 aircraft, aircraft systems, college life at USAFA, and other key items in preparing themselves to become better leaders,” he said.
Virtual events, including with aerospace leaders experienced across a wide variety of specialties, have been a frequent occurrence for cadets in Civil Air Patrol’s New Hampshire Wing. As a result of the pandemic, there has been an increased focus on virtual events which opens the door to host leaders and subject matter experts who otherwise could not physically visit the Granite State.
“We’re very grateful to Major Gunderson and Lieutenant Eckholm from the F-22 Team for spending time with the officers and cadets of New Hampshire Wing,” said Colonel Darin Ninness, wing commander. “The F-22 Raptor represents the cutting edge of today’s Air Force, and Maj Gunderson and Lt Eckholm certainly demonstrate the meaning of the phrase ‘Aim High’ in all they do.”
Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program is a non-profit, year-round leadership and aerospace education organization for youth ages 12 to 20. Aiming to create tomorrow’s leaders, Civil Air Patrol has been mentoring America’s young citizens and helping them succeed since 1941.