FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The cadets of a Civil Air Patrol in metro Atlanta were greeted by members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds on Thursday during an exclusive online video conference.
Three members of America’s Ambassadors in Blue spoke with local teens involved with the civilian branch of the Air Force. For one high ranking cadet, the live discussion increased her motivation for a career in the military.
“It was exciting to meet with members of the Thunderbirds, and be able to ask them questions,” Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Juli Vega of the Forsyth County CAP said afterwards.
Civil Air Patrol cadets are made up of teens working hard to learn the disciplines of the Air Force. They each earn rank as they learn about all aspects of an aerospace career in the military.
Thunderbirds Inspire America’s Future Airmen
The Civil Air Patrol is an extension of the Air Force, and has provided local communities with volunteer services dating back to before World War II. They offer aide to search and rescue aircrews, disaster relief, and also volunteer with humanitarian services.
The Thunderbirds began their 2021 air show season last weekend in central Florida. Their six F-16 Fighting Falcon jets perform precision maneuvers and high speed passes before show guests.
Thunderbirds’ flight surgeon Lt. Col. (Dr.) Noel Colls lead the 45 minute discussion from their air base near Las Vegas, Nevada. He described for the cadets his career with the military and with the team.
“I get to work with a great group of people and really learn a lot,” Lt. Col. Colls stated to the cadets. “In the military you will get to do things that you will never ever get to do in the civilian world.”
The medical doctor is also a prior military pilot having logged over 540 flight hours in 20 different aircraft. He has even logged over 310 combat hours during several tours of duty.
“There is a huge spectrum of jobs available in the Air Force,” Colls added. “Sure, being a pilot is fun to get up in a jet and fly, but, it’s all about your own personality and your own desires of what you want to do.”
Many of the young cadets are interested in advancing to the Air Force Academy in Colorado following high school. Careers as a pilot, medical, and logistics were just a few of the jobs discussed during the event.
“As an aspiring pilot and hopefully a future member of the Air Force, the biggest takeaway from this conversation was that in even this group of elite aviators, success comes down to attitude, integrity, and perseverance,” Cadet MSgt. Vega, 15, added with a nod. “Without these three qualities, it is difficult to achieve your full potential either as an individual or within a team.”
Vega will soon join a few cadets from across Georgia for an uplifting military experience. They will soon get to ride aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an observation flight with the 165th Airlift Wing near Savannah.
For Vega, these are two great leaps towards her future with the military.
(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)