Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 16, 2016 at 6:20am

Maintainer mentors cadets

Senior Airman Jason Washington, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, flies a Cessna plane June 4, 2016, at Pierce County Airport. Courtesy photo

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For one airman, it didn't take him long to realize that mentoring Civil Air Patrol cadets was something he was greatly interested in.

Senior Airman Jason Washington, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, saw mentoring CAP members as an opportunity to give back to the community and get some flight hours.

The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported nonprofit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP has provided 75 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

"CAP was something I was always interested in, even before the Air Force," said Washington. "I always was interested in the Air Force and CAP, but CAP wasn't really built up where I was from."

Washington said when he got to McChord Field in 2013, he did some research on the CAP program.

"Once I got out here and started going to the meetings, it seemed like a really cool volunteer opportunity to help these cadets out," said Washington.

Washington is a testing and leadership officer for the cadets. He administers the tests needed for the cadets to get promoted to the next rank.

"Their rank structure is very similar to ours (Air Force)," said Washington. "These kids range from the ages twelve to eighteen and are competing for rank. So I am administering the test, whether it's a physical training test, drill, or whatever test they need to complete for promotion."

Washington has volunteered more than 100 hours of his personal time developing and mentoring cadets, but stresses that although that is important, he is focused on CAP's biggest mission, which is search and rescue.

"My main focus in CAP is the search and rescue mission," said Washington. "I am a fully qualified scanner, which means when we go out on search and rescue missions, I am the person sitting in the back of the aircraft actively looking for whatever it is we are looking for."

Washington has volunteered more than 50 hours to help the CAP and Washington Department of Transportation with search and rescue missions, but is working his way up to become a mission pilot.

"I'm slowly working my way to become a mission pilot," said Washington. "Right now, I am in mission observer school. I will be done with mission observer school the end of May, then I will work on becoming a mission pilot since I am a private pilot in the civilian world."

The Brooklyn, New York, native, did pilot training in high school. He had a job at a movie theater and that helped him pay for his flight hours.

Washington said he sees this volunteer opportunity as a gateway to his main goal in life, and that is to be a pilot in the Air Force.

"My main goal is to be an Air Force pilot," said Washington. "I am going to Embry Riddle University pursuing my Bachelor's in Aeronautics right now."

Washington said that once he finishes up his degree within the next two years, he will apply to officer training school and see if he can get a pilot slot.

"I've loved every minute of this opportunity to mentor these cadets," said Washington. "Not only do I get to impact their lives, but I also get to continue to do something that I love, and that is to fly planes as well."

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