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Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP)

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link   All Posts
Dante Roberts

For my second week of summer training, I had the opportunity and privilege to go to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina. It started as an early wake-up and drive to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. After a stop in Baltimore, we landed in Norfolk, Virginia and were greeted by 1/c cadets who were also assigned to that station. We drove an hour south into North Carolina and knew we had arrived when we saw retired aircraft at the entrance of the base. Upon check-in, it was cool to see that we were staying in the barracks on base and I had a roommate just like at the Academy. Our rooms had lofted beds (bed on top, desk underneath), a refrigerator, TV, and personal bathroom/shower. Among us in the wing area were junior enlisted personnel who were attending the Aviation Survival Technician (AST), Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT), and Avionics Electrical Technician (AET) training schools on base. The first night, we were issued a flight suit or the typical “green pajamas.” It was quite the experience to be wearing a flight suit, which is much like a pajama onesie.

Throughout the week, we had different opportunities while on base. Elizabeth City not only has an air station, but a small boat station, the “A” schools for AST, AMT, and AET, and the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC). On one of the days, we were able to attend a workout with the AST’s or commonly referred to as rescue swimmers. This was the most intense workout any of us had ever done. The 11 2/c’s and four 1/c’s were swimming multiple laps, doing relay races, carrying bricks above the waterline, retrieving bricks from the bottom of a 12-foot pool and climbing ropes that ascended to the ceiling. This experience humbled us and made us realize how much our enlisted personnel actually do. The next day, we met the commanding officer of the “A” schools and were given a tour of all the buildings. We were able to see enlisted personnel at different stages of learning their rate. Another day, we met an engineering officer in charge of the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC). The ALC is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all aircraft in the Coast Guard.

It was quite the experience to see helicopters and airplanes in different stages of development, especially the finished product in a test flight. During the course of the entire week, we all had opportunities to be aboard at least one flight, either on the MH-60 Jayhawk (helicopter) or C-130J Super Hercules (airplane). I was on board a 12-man C-130 flight (two officers, eight enlisted, and two cadets). For approximately four hours, I was in the air between Elizabeth City and Norfolk, Virginia. The pilot was a lieutenant and the co-pilot was a lieutenant junior grade. The LTJG needed additional flight hours taking off and landing, so the training flight took us to the airport in Norfolk to do so. Additionally, the training flight required simulated drops of packages onto beaches and over the water. As a reward for a job well done, the pilots left the back ramp of the aircraft open while in flight and the crew was able to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. A few hours later, I touched back down in Elizabeth City. CATP was an unforgettable part of my 2/c summer experience.