Civil Air Patrol

Sixth Grade Students try hand at flying F-16 thanks to CAP

Photo by Autumn Grooms, Sparta Area School District: Joe Parent, a student at Sparta Meadowview Middle School, tries his hand at the F-16 simulator.

Sparta, Wis – Flying over the skies of western Wisconsin in a F-16 is a pretty good way to start your day when you’re a sixth grade student.  Recently, 75 sixth grade students from the Sparta Meadowview Middle School were able to experience a simulated version of this thanks to members of the La Crosse Composite Squadron.

The squadron, which operates a mobile F-16 simulator, brought the simulator along with other aerospace activities to the school as part of the squadron’s first ever Aerospace Field Day.  The four hour STEM-based activity was the brainchild of Major Todd Mandel, the unit’s Deputy Commander of Cadets and a member of the Board of Education for the Sparta Area School District.

“As a school board member I see our budgets and I know the fiscal constraints our schools operate under; this just seemed like a natural win-win” state Mandel.  “CAP gets to showcase our program, carry out our aerospace education mission and do it all at no cost to the schools.”

The event featured six stations.  Major Dave Snyder, the unit’s aerospace education officer, taught students about Newton’s Laws of Motion using a “Shop-Vac bazooka”.  Another station taught by Cadet Major Michael Ebert focused on the four forces of flight where students construct paper airplanes and then modified them to see how control surfaces worked.

Students also received a briefing from Cadet Senior Airman Drew Lysaker on the F-16 Fighting Falcon.  They were introduced to the CAP Cadet Program by Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Patrick Robbins and all that the program has to offer them.

But the highlight of the day was getting to take a ride in the F-16 simulator under the direction of Major Mark Berget and Captain Orin Wiseman.

The simulator is constructed from an actual F-16 cockpit and run with customized software developed by Major Berget.  “This thing is just plain cool” was the reaction of Cadet Airman First Class Colton Wilbur.

Once the event was over it was time for recess for the students.  But recess found many of them back at the simulator looking for one more chance to land that F-16.

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