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McGuire Squadron Hosts Successful Rocket Launch

posted Sep 23, 2020, 9:14 AM by William Petzinger
Allentown, N.J. (August 31, 2020) – The McGuire Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol launched a series of model rockets today so participating cadets would qualify for their rocketry ratings. The launches happened at a Byron Johnson Park over a three-hour period under the supervision of 2d Lt James Keedy, the squadron’s safety officer, and other senior members. Approximately 20 cadets are eligible to receive their rocketry badges.

“I’m extremely happy that our cadets could get to enjoy themselves at this extremely motivating -- but carefully monitored – activity,” said Maj Bill Petzinger, squadron commander. “We had a few failed ignitors and one or two bad motors, and one failed parachute but overall the activity was a huge success.”

The rocket launch was the squadron’s first in-person gathering since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions that forced its members to hold Zoom meetings each week. Observing mandated distancing and masking practices, the squadron’s cadets arrived at the park in shifts of six per hour and set up their Alpha III rockets using Civil Air Patrol’s Rocketry STEM Kit. Most cadets had assembled their model rockets before the pandemic.

Aerospace Education Officer 1st Lt. Hazel Cerra has challenged every cadet in the McGuire Composite Squadron to obtain their rocketry badge. Rocketry activities contribute to squadrons qualifying for a Cadet Quality Unit Award which is earned by meeting performance goals as a unit.

“Every cadet earning a rocketry badge is an achievable goal despite the COVID 19 restrictions,” said Lt Cerra. “Today’s rocket launch is the first in what will be a series of many to come for our squadron.”

Cerra said another launch is planned for October 2020 to allow cadets who were not able to participate in the August launch and for those who wish to obtain their advanced rocketry ratings.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.