Teens in Civil Air Patrol learn about helicopters

November 15, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Scrunched next to a side window of the helicopter, 14-year-old Jason Lesko peered at the rooftops of Annapolis -- a new experience for the Civil Air Patrol member, who's used to flying in small planes.

On the other side of the 1967 UH-1 copter sat his father, Maj. William Lesko, who recalled flying transport missions in Vietnam 25 years ago on board the same model craft.

His son was among a group of about 30 teen-agers from the Arundel squadron of the Civil Air Patrol who went to Fort Meade yesterday to learn about helicopters from the Maryland National Guard.

"I thought it was great," said Jason, a master sergeant in the patrol. "We are learning about copters and getting to ride in them."

Members of the Civil Air Patrol get few chances to fly in helicopters, doing most searches in small Cessna planes. But experience never hurts.

"You never know when you might be needed," said Major Jay Marts of the Maryland National Guard, who said he flew a helicopter on an extensive search for a downed airplane in the Virginia mountains several years ago.

Most of the teens at Fort Meade yesterday didn't have pilot licenses, though many had participated in ground and air searches for missing planes. Yesterday's session, a cooperative effort by the Maryland National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol, is part of the youngsters' extensive training program.

"They study as hard for the Civil Air Patrol as they do for school," said William Shipp, a Civil Air Patrol member whose sons, 15-year-old Chip and 13-year-old Stephen, also are members.

The teens also got a lecture on how the National Guard is set up and a briefing on an anti-tank missile system, displayed at the base.

Capt. Robert D. Garverick, commander of the Annapolis Civil Air Patrol squadron, said the lessons they learned could help in a mission, especially if the Civil Air Patrol and National Guard work together.

"We give the kids lots of flying time," he said, adding that many of the teens are part of the search team's ground crew.

"It's one thing to spot a wreckage from the air, but it's another to beat the bushes and identify it," Captain Garverick said.

Guard members took the youths on 25-minute rides from Fort Meade to Annapolis and back, touching down briefly at Lee Airport on Solomons Island Road.

The copter rose to about 1,500 feet and flew over Interstate 97, the Severn River and into Annapolis.

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