Senior, Annastasia O’Looney, flies high with the Civil Air Patrol


Annastasia O'Looney

Senior, Annastasia O’Looney, posed in uniform in front of her CAP aircraft.

GNA CAMPUS – It takes someone with integrity, excellence, respect, and motivation to volunteer to create a hero. Luckily, the Civil Air Patrol: U.S. Air Force Auxiliary is trained to raise these heroes, save lives, and shape the futures of generations to come. 

According to the Civil Air Patrol’s official website, “As a Total Force partner and auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol is there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe. Its 56,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy, and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace/STEM education and helping shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet program.” 

The origin of the CAP dates back to 1936. World WarⅠaviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, Gill Robb Wilson, envisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense. In Ohio, Milton Knight, a pilot and businessman, organized and incorporated the Civilian Air Reserve (CAR) in 1938. Across the nation, other military-styled aviation units emerged and in 1941 Wilson launched the perfected program: the Civil Air Defense Services (CADS). 

For students interested in making a difference, the CAP has a specific program dedicated to younger generations. “Civil Air Patrol’s cadet program transforms youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders through a curriculum that focuses on leadership, aerospace, fitness, and character. As cadets participate in these four elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way. Many of the nation’s astronauts, pilots, engineers, and scientists first explored their careers through CAP.”

Senior, Annastasia O’looney, had the privilege of working with the CAP and their Great Cadet Program. She is the true definition of a GNA Trojan, willing to sore to new heights: literally!

The GNA Insider sat down with Anna and asked her some hard-hitting questions to better educate the world on the CAP and describe her enlightening experience.

Annastasia O’Looney 

Anna’s view of the GNA High School from her seat in the sky.

In your own words, what is the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)?

The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary force of the USAF. So we are funded by the USAF. Once a month we do Physical training, volunteer with the search and rescue teams, and build leadership skills. During the winter or summer, we do encampments. Encampments are like a summer camp but we build on our leadership skills and drilling.


How did you find out about the CAP? How did you get involved?

I found out about the CAP through my father. I went to an open house they had at the forty fort airport and I met with First Sergeant Kaitlyn Shaver and Cadet Captain Matthew Vernborg for more information and I applied for membership. 


How did you prepare for your first flight with the CAP?

I had a meeting with Captain Szish and he gave me the rundown on the different controls and safety precautions to take while flying. I then had to take the Aircraft Ground Handling Training which is basically just how to handle the plane and learn more safety procedures.


Describe your feelings leading up to the flight. How did you feel during the actual flight?

My feelings leading up to my first flight were just pure excitement. During the actual flight, I still felt really excited. I was really happy about flying and getting the opportunity to do so.


What was your favorite part of flying?

The inside controls of Anna’s aircraft.

My favorite part about flying was actually getting the controls handed over to me. I was about 3,000 feet up in the air so having the controls handed to me was definitely my favorite part.


Is this something you’re considering pursuing in the future?

Most definitely! After I finish my youth program when I’m 21 I plan on becoming a senior member and staying for as long as I can. 


What are some words of advice you would give to other students considering this program (CAP)?

Get involved. Listen and respect your leaders and actually learn how to drill. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you correct them and learn from them. If you’re respectful and putting in the hard work towards your leaders they will help you.


Thank you to Annastasia for taking the time to answer The GNA Insider’s questions. If you see her in the halls, be sure to congratulate her on the successes she has accomplished within the CAP Cadet Program!