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Austintown youth inspired to fly

October 29, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
Megan Beatty, 16, of Austintown has a dream of someday sitting behind the controls of an Air Force fighter jet. She isn’t wasting time either, as she is well on her way to fulfilling that quest.

Beatty is a sophomore who is attending Ohio Connections Academy, a virtual school. Several years ago she was introduced to the world of Air Force flight and said she immediately knew that is what she wanted in life.

“I attended the air show at the Vienna Air Base in August 2009,” Beatty said. “I became interested in the Air Force after seeing the Thunderbirds fly. I told my brother Chris, who was serving in Iraq with the Army National Guard at the time, about my interest in flying. He told me about the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.”

After investigating the program, Beatty learned about the Youngstown ARS Composite Squadron at the Vienna Air Base. It is the local squadron for the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. The Youngstown unit is the 19th largest cadet one in the nation with members traveling from as far as Akron, Canton, Dorset, Greenville and Leetonia. It presently consists of 67 cadets and 28 senior members.

The mission of the Cadet Program is to teach its members how to be not only good leaders, but good followers as well. There are many group activities and games where cadets are encouraged to think outside the box to solve problems. Members also learn good physical activity habits and learn about character development and good decision-making skills.

According to Shelia Stoneburner, public affairs officer of the Youngstown ARS Composite Squadron, the mission of the Civil Air Patrol program is three-fold. It has an aerospace education mission that instills an appreciation for aviation. There is an emergency services mission where members are taught search and rescue and survival techniques, and there are teams that members can join such as the drill team or color guard.

“Our squadron is striving to teach good life skills to help our members succeed in life and be good members of the community,” Stoneburner said. “We stress integrity and giving back to the community we live in.”

For Beatty, the program has proven to be the path in life that she wants to be on. She said her ultimate goal is to become a fighter pilot and one day fly for the Thunderbirds. At 16, she is already in the air, having the opportunity to fly a Cessna 172 and a glider.

Over the summer, she had the opportunity to attend the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course at Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Miss. The weeklong course was spent experiencing what it would be like to be a student pilot at the flight school. Beatty was one of four Youngstown cadets and part of the class of 38 cadets from across the nation who were selected from 900 applicants for the course.

“We got to use the flight simulators, attended flight briefings, and experience a portion of the aerospace physiology classes that the U.S. Air Force student pilots go through,” Beatty said. “Several hours were spent studying the T-6A Texan II, which is the training aircraft that the students pilots use during their training. We had to get up at 3:30 a.m. and start taking tests at 5 a.m., but it was the best time of my life and I would love to do it all over again.”

Beatty plans to stay involved with the cadet program at Youngstown and hopes to rise in rank. She said when she reaches the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, she will have the opportunity for a flight scholarship that will help pay for a pilot’s license.

“I am also learning the leadership skills and aerospace knowledge that is required to serve as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force,” she said.

Beatty’s involvement with the cadet program has become a family affair. Her twin brother Cadet Staff Sgt. Sean Beatty joined the same time she did. On top of that, her mother Diane Beatty is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol.

“She became a member nine months after my brother and I joined,” Beatty said.

As for talking up the cadet program, Beatty has become a positive force in speaking highly of it.

“It is a great program to help  build confidence, leadership skills, aerospace knowledge and emergency services skills,” Beatty said. “Through Civil Air Patrol, I flew in a Blackhawk helicopter, rappelled down a 50-foot wall, attended a camp where the military trains special forces and attended a flight school, all in less than two years of membership.  There are not any cons in this program. I have seen it help cadets who were very shy become self-confident and participate in activities that you can only experience through the Civil Air Patrol.”

Article Photos

Photo special to the Town Crier
Megan Beatty of Austintown has set a goal of someday becoming a fighter pilot. She is already on her way to that goal as a cadet member of the Civil Air Patrol at the Youngstown Air Reserve Base in Vienna.



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