CAP Helps 150 Scouts Earn Merit Badges at Selfridge

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: Second in a two-part series about Air Force-supported youth programs near Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich.

Approximately 150 Boy Scouts earned their Aviation merit badge during a day-long visit to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., May 5, 2013.

Cadets and adult leaders from two Detroit-area Civil Air Patrol squadrons worked with the Scouts during the visit, instructing the Scouts on a variety of aviation information, from the basics of aerodynamics to a quick course on how to perform the pre-flight inspection on an aircraft.

"It's all about STEM - science, technology, engineering and math," said CAP Capt. Ken Fountain, the external aerospace education officer for the Van Dyke Cadet Squadron, who served as one of the leader instructors during the event. "How do you get cool stuff in front of kids, so that you can get them exposed and excited about science and engineering?"

During the visit, the Scouts spent the first half of the day hearing a lecture and looking at some model aircraft, learning some of the science behind what allows a plane to fly. In the second half of the day, the Scouts moved to the Selfridge Military Air Museum, where they toured the exhibit and used two of the more than 30 aircraft on display at the museum to learn how to perform a pre-flight inspection.

"The coolest thing is how fast some of the planes can go," said Joshua Muter, a first class Scout with Troop 1705.

Muter said he was also surprised to see a vintage military Jeep inside the C-130 Hercules on display at the museum, which was open for the Scouts and their leaders to walk through.

"I didn't know you could put a car inside an airplane," Muter said.

"The CAP volunteers, they really make this happen," said Senior Master Sgt. Ron Thornsberry, a member of the 127th Wing at Selfridge and a Boy Scout leader for the past 14 years with Troop 146.

Thornsberry helped coordinate the logistics on the base to make the event possible.

In 2011, a group of Boy Scouts and their adult leaders were allowed to camp on the base during the Selfridge Air Show that summer. During the show weekend, the participating Scouts also were able to earn credit toward their Aviation merit badge. Since the 2011 Air Show, the CAP and the Scouts have been holding day-long Aviation merit badge events at the base twice a year. The May 2013 event was the largest to date.

"One of our goals in the CAP is to bring aerospace education to the public," Fountain said. "So, we are looking for an audience. The Scouts are looking for instructors for their badge. This event marries the two needs perfectly."

In addition to the CAP leaders who were providing formal instruction geared toward the merit badge, a number of museum volunteers were on hand to answer questions about two of the more popular attractions at the museum, the C-130 and a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, both of which visitors can enter, sit in the cockpit and tour.

Among those manning the P-3 during the Scout visit was retired Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Evans, who served as a flight engineer on the aircraft when it was stationed at Selfridge with Patrol Squadron 93.

"We owe it to the kids to be here for them," Evans said. "Programs like Scout, the CAP, these programs help teach our American values to kids.

Finishing up the requirements for his very first merit badge as a Scout was Tyler Danielson, a member of Troop 216 - and Evans' grandson.

"I learned about jet engines, the elevator, the ailerons, how to turn an aircraft, the different jobs around the aircraft," Danielson said.

The Scout said he's learned a lot about airplanes from his grandfather and is interested in being a pilot himself in the future. He also plans to join the CAP next year, when he's old enough.

In addition to cadets and adult members from the Van Dyke CAP squadron, about 10 CAP members from the Livonia squadron attended the event, in preparation for possibly holding a similar event at a small civilian airport.

The Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It is a volunteer organization which serves three primary goals: to assist with emergency services; aerospace education; and a cadet program for teens. CAP cadets are between the ages of 12 and 18 and learn a wide variety of airmanship and leadership skills. Adult members support the cadet program and serve in a variety of other roles. CAP members do not need to be military veterans and they incur no military obligation for participating in CAP. A number of scholarships and other opportunities are available to cadet members.

For more information on the CAP, visit