The past year might be a tough act to follow, but the coming year promises to be an exciting one for the 689 Handley Page Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron.
The squadron, which will turn 25 years old next spring, kicked off it's year's activities with an information session for returning cadets, parents and prospective new cadets at the legion on Monday evening.
Included in the evening was a review of the squadron's summer program, which commanding officer Keith Odlin described as an overwhelming success.
"We're very, very pleased with the summer program," he said. "No small thanks to the ACO's office for making sure those kids who wanted to go to summer camp were given that training opportunity."
Of the 25 cadets that finished last year's program with the squadron, 19 of them went off to various camps during the summer months. Nine attended general training, one attended basic band camp, two took survival training, two took the Introduction to Aviation course, one took the Introduction to Leadership course, one took an aircraft maintenance course in North Bay, Ont., another took the athletics instructor's course in Kingston, Ont., and another, Malcolm Campbell, graduated with his wings from the glider pilot's course in Debert.
Malcolm has assumed the mantel as the squadron's warrant officer this year.
Although graduating cadet Joni Milligan was awarded a power pilot scholarship, she turned down that scholarship in order to pursue a career in the military. In July she joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a meteorological technician and is now finishing up her basic course at St. Jean, Que., expecting to graduate in November.
"We're very, very proud of her," said Odlin.
This year, as the 100th anniversary of Canada's first powered flight coincides with the 100th anniversary of the cadet movement in Canada, the air cadets program will roll out its revamped Level Two program, following last year's launching of the new Level One program.
"It's a much more hands-on friendly program, with a lot less textbook learning," explained Odlin. "They're trying to introduce a lot more activities to supplement the program. They want to put more air into the air cadet program."
The squadron will probably leave the community more than ever this year, according to Odlin, who said he expects to participate in more joint ventures with other squadrons, similar to last year's winter campout, when squadrons from the Halifax and Truro areas joined the local cadets.
That theme will be perpetuated and expanded this year to include bigger units, not only within air cadets, but army and sea cadets as well, according to Odlin. The local squadron will also host a squadron from Trenton, Ont. next month on an inter-city exchange program.
"Plus, we'll have our normal training, our weekend exercises and our winter program," he said. "It's going to be a great year."