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posted Aug 20, 2011, 12:57 PM by Brent Messer   [ updated Aug 21, 2011, 2:21 PM ]
By Tyler Lahnen, Jacksonville Composite Squadron Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Friday, July 15: 40 Cadets and Senior Members of the Civil Air Patrol from around North Florida gathered at Naval Air Station Jacksonville for the chance to get up close and personal with a frequent sight in the region's skies: The P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The tour of Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN's headquarters and hanger facilities - arranged by the Jacksonville Composite Squadron and also attended by members from the Cecil Field Cadet Squadron, and the Gainesville and St. Augustine Composite Squadrons- allowed members a close look at the gear and systems used by the aircrew's to engage in anti-submarine warfare- including inside the aircraft itself. Cadets were given the opportunity to fly the aircraft using the simulator training facilities.

Cadet Airman 1st Class Rosemary Hofstedt of the Jacksonville Composite Squadron said, "We learned about the P-3's and what they do, met the crews, toured the aircraft, and familiarized ourselves with the different gear used by the crew." For many cadets, especially those with flight experience or undergoing flight training, the cockpit was both intriguing and scary, with a maze of buttons, levers and lights. Cadet Senior Airman Zach Hodges of the Gainesville Composite Squadron
commented, "I was very surprised at the complexity of the simulators on the base, which could simulate movement and had a panoramic cockpit view identical to the real thing."

Cadets and Senior Members alike left NAS Jacksonville with a renewed respect for the men and women of Naval Aviation. Senior Member Tyler Lahnen, the Jacksonville Composite Squadron Public Affairs Officer and Project Officer for this tour, said, "As the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol has a close relationship with all branches of the military. I'm excited our cadets were able to have this experience and get an up close and personal view of the real men and women who keep us safe."

Right: CAP members examine the Magnetic Anomaly Detector, a defining characteristic of P-3 aircraft
Left: Cadets fly a P-3 over Jacksonville in the flight simulator