“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Launch, launch, launch!” could be heard at the Frank E. Mackle Community Park Center on Marco Island as the assembled rocket-builders shouted out the countdowns. “Another successful launch! This one reached the basketball court roof. Great job young rocketeers!” exclaimed Major Baker.
For the third year in a row, Camp Director Heather Lopez invited the Marco Island Civil Air Patrol (CAP) officers to conduct an Aerospace Education and Rocketry workshops in June and July 2018. This year, the campers were between the ages of 6 to 10. Many great counselors helped the 60-plus children with the different tasks.
The program, organized by Major Jesse Baker, began with a presentation of the services that the Civil Air Patrol provides to the community and the three main missions that guide us: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs and Emergency Services.
The squadron constantly practices Search and Rescue exercises to be always “mission ready.” Major Baker explained our air patrols and training missions over the Wilderness Water Way of the 10,000 Islands and parts of the Everglades, as well as Marco Island.
Major Baker said, “When on a mission, we are always including surveillance of boaters, kayakers and campers who may be in distress. We report any sightings, along with the GPS coordinates, to our mission base, who in turn will alert the Coast Guard.”
He further explained that we support Homeland Security by participating in training exercises to protect our coastline and airports.
Additional emphasis was put on the CAP cadet program. “Our Cadets can learn how to fly airplanes and gliders, and earn various scholarships through the CAP,” said Major Baker.
Major Ray James and Lt. Col. Tommy Meeker, members of the flight crews and wearing their distinctive, fireproof USAF flight suits, gave an overview of the kind of gear, planning and teamwork needed to fly a search and rescue mission.
“Our Cadets can learn how to fly airplanes and gliders, and earn various scholarships through the CAP.”
~ Major Jesse Baker
Finally, Major Marian Motyl-Szary explained the important role aerial photography could have after a disaster.
Major Baker presented the scaled models of the different types of rocket engines and discussed their differences and applications.
After all the talking, we finally arrived to the fun part and the most important part of the workshop: building air-powered paper rockets. This exercise teaches the participants the principles of aerodynamics as well as teamwork and experimentation. The campers were provided with paper, tape and small rods used to form the rocket fuselage. The group went right into the production and assembly of their own rockets. Once the fuselage, fins and nose cone were assembled and taped together, everyone went out to the launch pad or basketball court.
Working in two-person crews each child had a turn pressurizing and launching their rockets. The “fuel” or air pressure was provided by a launching contraption, where a large bicycle pump was connected to a pipe assembly. Due to the “unique” nature of each individual final design, the rockets flew like arrows the length of the court, gaining lofty altitudes, or corkscrewed in an erratic flight path.
Major Baker concluded, “Everyone had a great time. Looking ahead, I’d say I could see here: future engineers, commercial pilots and scientists. The sky’s the limit.”