LIVERPOOL - It’s more than meet the skies with the 545 Privateer Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron in Liverpool.
According to the Department of National Defense, which funds the program, Royal Canadian Air Cadets participate in a variety of fun and challenging activities that appeal to a wide array of interests. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate learning survival skills for flight crew, athletes will appreciate physical education and recreation, including a variety of sporting activities like biathlon and Olympic-style marksmanship, while the artists may enjoy the music program.
Air Cadets is one of the three elements of cadets in the Canadian Cadet Organization that also includes Army Cadets and Sea Cadets. Only air cadets, though, is available in Queens County.
Capt. Katherine Gayton, commanding officer of the 545 Privateer Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron in Liverpool, has been involved with the program for over 25 years, since she was 12 years old. She is so enthusiastic about the program because of the great opportunities it provides for youth. She says the program has impacted her entire life.
“Throughout the 27 years,” says Gayton, “I have been to Alberta twice and to Ontario twice through Air Cadets.”
The overall aim of the program is to help youth develop attributes of good citizenship and leadership, to promote physical fitness and to stimulate in youth an interest in the air activities of the Canadian Forces.
Air Cadets learn leadership and team-building skills, knowledge of citizenship, aviation (including principles of flight, engines, types of aircraft and about aerospace), physical fitness and participate in organized sports, and instructional techniques to one day become a cadet instructor.
Every cadet will have the chance to participate in flight activities, and some top senior cadets may even earn a scholarship to obtain their private pilot’s license.
Active in community
Gayton says the 545 Privateer Squadron is also very active in the Queens community.
“We assist with various community fundraisers, such as the Hospital Hustle, Mersey Point Community Association bottle drive, Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign and the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign,” says Gayton.
“We participate in community parades and have a large presence at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Liverpool, Milton and Brooklyn.”
To allow for these extra activities to happen, the squadron is supported by a tri-service community sponsor committee, made up of Branch 038 Royal Canadian Legion, Liverpool Lions Club and Liverpool Kinsman.
“Without these three community groups, we would not be able to have anything extra outside of our mandatory training components,” says Gayton.
How to participate
Any youth between the ages of 12 and 18 can join the Air Cadet program, which meets weekly on Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m. at the South Queens Middle School, 157 Old Bridge St., Liverpool. There is no fee to join, nor is there a cost for the uniform.
“All we ask in return at 545 is that the young person attends regularly and assists with our fundraising campaigns and community initiatives,” says Gayton.
The squadron is always looking for volunteers for supervisory roles or training roles. Anyone who is interested should contact Gayton at firstname.lastname@example.org.