Teen given prestigious Civil Air Patrol award

SPECIAL HONOR — Dalton Ewing of Follansbee, a Brooke High School sophomore, was presented the General Billy Mitchell Award, a prestigious honor for participants of the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet program, by Col. Paul McCroskey II, commander of the national group’s West Virginia Wing, at a ceremony in Charleston in November. -- Contributed

WHEELING — A Follansbee teen is flying high since receiving a statewide award but that’s nothing new for Dalton Ewing, who has enjoyed learning to pilot small aircraft as a member of the Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet program.

Established in 1942, the nonprofit group is comprised of about 60,000 volunteers throughout the U.S. who aid first responders in search and rescue missions, support relief efforts and assist government officials in various other ways.

Based at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport, the Wheeling Composite Squadron is among many Civil Air Patrol squadrons that include a Cadet program designed to introduce youth to aviation and instill in them leadership and teamwork skills.

Ewing, a sophomore at Brooke High School, has received the Civil Air Patrol’s prestigious General Billy Mitchell Award.

Named for an Army general considered the father of the U.S. Air Force, the award is given to a small percentage of Civil Air Patrol cadets who participate in eight levels of activities and tasks related to physical fitness, knowledge of flight, space travel and leadership and scoring 80 percent or better on a 100 question exam gaging what they have learned.

Each level is named for a pioneer in aviation or aeronautics, from Orville and Wilbur Wright to Neil Armstrong.

As they pass each level, the youth, who wear uniforms similar to those worn by members of the Air Force, are promoted in rank.

As a recipient of the General Billy Mitchell Award, Ewing holds the rank of Cadet second lieutenant.

In addition to receiving a promotion in the Cadet program, he also would be eligible for an advanced placement and pay upgrade if he were to join the Air Force.

The son of J.R. and Karin Ewing, he said he is considering serving in the military branch and hopes to attend Fairmont University and participate in the ROTC there.

Ewing said he’s very interested in becoming a professional pilot and became involved in the Cadet program after seeing a television news report on the local group.

As a Cadet he has put in more than 48 hours piloting a 172 Cessna under the supervision of an adult Civil Air Patrol member and after learning the basics of flight in a simulator.

Ewing admitted he was a bit nervous initially during his first flight but said he quickly overcame it.

Asked what he enjoys most about flying, Ewing said, “Everything about it.”

The teen has a learner’s permit for driving and looks forward to driving alone but prefers flying to it.

There’s a nice bird’s eye view, less traffic and it’s very convenient, with a trip to Charleston taking just an hour, Ewing noted.

He said he’s also enjoyed attending the Cadet summer camp at West Virginia Army National Guard Camp Dawson in Morgantown.

The camp has a military style, with campers beginning each morning with calisthenics, but also activities ranging from rapelling up a 60 foot wall to riding in a Blackhawk helicopter, Ewing noted.

He said while at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport, he has learned also to operate communications equipment while participating in a simulation of a search and rescue mission.

Ewing said there were about a dozen young men and women in the Cadet program, many of them from Wheeling, when he joined two and a half years ago.

Since then about five have left to enter college and his father has joined the Civil Air Patrol after learning of the group through him.

At school Ewing competes in track, cross country and swimming and is a member of the school’s Spanish club and chapters of Technology Students of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Of the Cadet program, he said, “If you put the time in, you’re going to get a lot out of it.”

Open to young adults, ages 12 to 20, the group meets on two Wednesday evenings each month and one Sunday each month.

For information, visit the Civil Air Patrol’s national website at www.capmembers.com, the West Virginia Wing’s website at www.wvcap.net, or the Wheeling Composite Squadron’s Facebook page at Wheeling Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol WV 049.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)