Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Howard squadron cadets train for aerospace futures

4/15/2018 – LAUREL, Md. — Howard Composite Squadron, a unit of the Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol, is committed to ensuring that its members participate in extraordinary aerospace programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. Cadets, supported by enthusiastic senior members, participated in a several internal and external aerospace education activities during February and March 2018. Each activity was designed to introduce cadets to and prepare them for potential aerospace-related futures. Recently, STEM activities were held at squadron meetings, experienced through external tours and by participating as support for engineering competitions.

Lt. Col. Ronald Whitehead, the unit’s aerospace education officer, and cadets have been developing their expertise with the CAP model rocketry STEM module program over recent unit meetings. Working with and studying rocketry has given cadets a background education in the physics of propulsion, control and guidance. Cadets have progressed through the program by building more complex systems with the goal of launching their own model rockets in the spring.

In February, cadets and seniors supported the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Paper Airplane Engineering Challenge at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. A dozen unit members participated as guides, judges, and mentors to participants in the program designed to teach elementary school students the basics of flight. The students competed in the challenge with a goal to be the one team that could build their plane which could fly the longest and highest.

Howard squadron cadets also had the opportunity to practice astronaut skills. Cadets were able to attempt to complete building activities while wearing actual astronaut gloves provided by NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center. While wearing the gloves, cadets realized how difficult it is for astronauts to perform a simple task to pick up and manipulate small objects in a simulated space flight environment. Learning how to fasten and unfasten increasingly smaller nuts and bolts provided the dexterity challenge. Cadets also participated in optics STEM instruction on the applications of fiber optics and polarized light.

CAP aerospace/STEM education programs bring over 40 free fun and engaging products and programs to our members. Aerospace education is a major part of the CAP cadet program. Cadets study aerospace books and perform hands-on aerospace activities in a group or by themselves. Additionally, educators can join as CAP aerospace education members and enjoy many free aerospace educational opportunities ranging from receiving lesson plans to participating in a teacher orientation flight aboard one of our Cessna aircraft. This unique membership category is designed for educators or others involved in promoting aerospace education in classrooms, museums, or other youth organizations. To learn more about membership and opportunities available to members and educators visit

Howard Composite Squadron meets Thursday nights, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the cafeteria of Building 1 at the Johns Hopkins University-Applied Physics Laboratory located at 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Md. We invite anyone interested in aerospace education, cadet leadership training or emergency services support to attend a meeting to see if CAP membership is a way for you to serve your community. Youths, ages 12 to 18, parents and adults interested in the cadet or senior program are always welcome to drop by our meetings. Contact information for the Howard Composite Squadron is at .

Nearly 1,500 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with four finds. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,245 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information, contact the Maryland Wing at or follow the wing on Facebook at

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.


Photos (left to right):

C/A1Cs Justin Rolfe and Sofia Farnsworth collaborate to construct a model rocket as part of the Howard squadron’s aerospace education training.

C/AB Victor Levin and C/Amn Tulio Chavez team up to build model rockets as part of the CAP STEM program.

During a recent aerospace education class, C/Amn Tulio Chavez attempts a dexterity activity that astronauts must frequently accomplish.  His goal is to fasten bolts while wearing gloves worn by NASA astronauts.


Article by
Lt. Col. Kevin Redman, CAP
Commander, Howard Composite Squadron


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