Eye on the Pupil: Freshman Chip Cantrell

Remember all those little boys who said they wanted to grow up and be pilots? Freshman Chip Cantrell is just a little closer to that dream.

Tuesday nights at 7:30 find Chip flying over the greater Bay Area with an extension of the Air Force Auxiliary, called Civil Air Patrol (CAP). He belongs to the Jon E. Kramer Composite Squadron 10, a CAP unit based in Palo Alto.

The three goals of any CAP extension are emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education, and the same goes for Chip’s unit.
“It isn’t like training in the sense that most people think of it; we train but more to be leaders and prepared for an emergency that may arise,” Chip said. “We do not do any combat training.”

CAP is a predominant force with “most of the civil things.”

“We do anything domestic that the Air Force doesn’t do or can’t get a plane in for,” Chip said. “Anything from fishing and helping a downed plane to other stuff.”

CAP assists with search and rescue, as well as research and disaster relief for the local area and the mountains.

“If there was to be some kind of disaster, CAP is the first to do most disaster relief,” Chip said. “I would actually get to help.”

With money in the nation stretched tighter, the Air Force is unable to do more work in domestic areas. The Civil Air Patrol helps out in all such cases, starting with training volunteers like Chip.

After moving here from Cleveland, Ohio a few years ago, Chip found out about the program through his girlfriend’s cousin. The cousin was already participating in a program like it.

“I have always loved flying,” Chip said. “The thing I like most about Squadron 10 is how close all the cadets are.”

The cousin’s experience inspired Chip to “join up,” a decision for which Chip is very glad.

Right now, the cadets—the younger age volunteers between 12 and 21 years of age—are learning to fly fighter planes at the weekly training sessions.

Chip’s favorite thing in CAP, though, “is drill because it builds teamwork but at the same time we compete against each other in drill competitions.”

But flying with the military is more than Chip’s hobby. With training once a week, Chip believes that Squadron 10 will be a good head start for a future pilot or military career.
No one in his immediate family is in service for the United States. Nevertheless, Chip has always found flying interesting and said that he “would actually love to go to the Air Force Academy [some day].”

Some teenagers would just be up for goofing around in an airplane, but Chip is different in his commitment to flying.

“I take it pretty seriously,” Chip said. “I’m not like everyone else.”

Chip’s enthusiasm for the military became apparent to many of his fellow peers when he came to school in a full-blown military uniform. Chip, however, had quite practical reasons for his unconventional school attire.

“I had to wear it because I had water polo right before CAP and had to be ready before I left school,” Chip said. “The reaction my [water polo] coach had was great…the water polo team called it ‘Rambo training.’”