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River Oaks Middle students gain aviation knowledge and experience through unique Civil Air Patrol program

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It's a cool and unique program at River Oaks Middle School. The Civil Air Patrol program allows students opportunities to learn about aviation and they actually get to fly airplanes. We're in Dorchester county for our Cool School of the week.

It's a lesson where the sky is really the limit. Welcome to River Oaks Middle School's Civil Air Patrol Program. Major Tina Peterson with Civil Air Patrol says, "Right now, .we are the only state public middle school that has a Civil Air Patrol program. It is very exciting! For some of my cadets, it's their first time in an airplane, what an experience to be in a single engine little cessna airplane."

Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Eighth grade student Cadet Jesse Dasinger says, "I've been on a glider two times, and I've been on a powered aircraft once, three times I've been in a plane. It's really fun, but you do have to work."

Cadets learn aerospace science, and learn how to fly both powered and glider aircraft. They also become qualified in search and rescue. Major Peterson says, "They get five flights in a cessna, single engine plane and five flights in a glider. So they learn aerospace, aviation, and impact on community. They also are search and rescue qualified to do any inland search and rescue for the Air Force, so we do about 90-percent search and rescue if an airplane were to go down or a missing person, they can actually call us and we can deploy our cadets to search and do disaster relief after a hurricane."

Cadets also learn basic military customs and courtesies. Principal Scott Matthews says, "Most of what they do they do some things here at school as far as military courtesy and mannerism, but they mainly do a lot of stuff on the weekend. They show up at the air base and they actually meet the pilots, and learn about aerospace science and actually get to fly and help control airplanes, which is pretty neat as well." Sixth grade student Charlee Godwin says, "It's really fun. I've been able to learn how to find an ELT if an air plane crashes, and how to use a compass. I've also been in an airplane twice and taught how to fly the controls. I want to be able to be in Civil Air Patrol as a pilot and be able to fly my own cadets around and teach them how to use the airplane."

If they choose, cadets become certified in search and rescue. Cadets also participate in national special training every summer, as they advance in rank, they can hold positions of leadership. Cadets also attend training at Auburn in engineering and can take an officer course at the actual USAF officer school. They can remain cadets throughout college, until the age of 21, and there are also scholarships available.

Coming up Friday on News 2 Today, we will present River Oaks with our Cool School award.

We want to hear about the good things going on at your school. Send an email to Octavia at omitchell@wcbd.com, maybe your school will be the next Cool School of the week.

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