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Alberta cadets hope to be UK-bound

May 23, 2012, Sherwood Park, Alta. - The soaring hopes of a team from a Sherwood Park Air Cadet squadron to obtain enough funding to attend an aerospace challenge in England this summer may come crashing down, as donations have been lagging since their push began at the end of March.


May 23, 2012
By Carey Fredericks

A team from the 12 Edmonton Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron, based
in Sherwood Park, is hoping to raise $45,000 to attend the Schools
Aerospace Challenge at Cranfield University in England this July. The
program is designed for youth ranging from 16 to 18 years old to provide
solutions for a real Royal Air Force.

 

Three members from the 12
Squadron were chosen by the Alberta Aviation Museum.

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However, the
squad has only raised approximately half of its goal, despite
campaigning efforts starting since the announcement of the invitation on
March 28, said Thomas Hinderks, Alberta Aviation Museum’s executive
director. With a June 9 cut-off date to make the commitment to attend,
the team is making a final plea to the public for financial assistance.

 

“With
the initial donations that came in, it looked like we were going to be
able to hit the target at a reasonable period in time, but we’ve been
kind of surprised that it’s turned into a fairly tough exercise to make
the target,” he said.

 

Since the announcement of the invitation,
Hinderks said the Alberta Aviation Museum has approached numerous
aerospace companies for donations.

 

“We’ve been in contact with
literally 20 aerospace companies that we’re waiting for answers on, and
we’re working every angle to hit the target to send these kids,” he
said. “This is the door for kids to get involved. As you can imagine,
aerospace is an extremely high-technology industry. They require a
higher-level of education and we’re always talking about keeping kids in
school in Alberta. This seems like the ideal way to promote the
industry.”

 

This is the first time Canada has been invited to the
competition. In celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, organizers
decided to invite Commonwealth countries to this year’s challenge.

 

The
Alberta Aviation museum selected the Park squadron due to its 70-year
history, making it the second longest serving cadet unit in Canada.

 

This
year’s challenge requires contestants to create a design concept for an
unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that could potentially be used by the Royal
Air Force.

 

The Sherwood Park contingent are currently undergoing an intense training regimen for the competition.

They
have visited NAV Canada at the Edmonton International Airport to learn
about aerospace concepts, and will also receive training and insight
from engineers in the Edmonton-based 408 Royal Canadian Air Force
Squadron.

The team has been training at the Alberta
Aviation Museum, where they are able to test out their UAV design
concepts and use the flight simulators to learn how to operate aircraft.

 

Hinderks
said although this July’s competition is meant to be a “launch year”
and will eventually expand into a local and then provincial-wide
competition to decide which team will represent Canada, these plans
could fall short if the Sherwood Park group fails to be involved in this
opportunity due to a lack of funding.

 

“It’s a unique opportunity that these kids just aren’t going to see again,” he said.

This
trip is all about exposing youth to the wide-range of educational
opportunities available to them in the aerospace industry and beyond,
Hinderks said.

 

“By supporting it, people are helping us move
forward to expand that knowledge-base — to open those doors for this
team and, in future years, more teams,” he said. “These kids are going
to come back with a whole new view of what’s possible for them.”

 

Hinderks said he will work tirelessly until June 9 to try to get this team to England.

 

“We’re not giving up,” he said. “This is about making it happen for the kids.”

 

All
funds go solely towards the team’s expenses. All donations will receive
a Canada Revenue Agency-accepted charitable tax receipt from the
Alberta Aviation Museum. If the event is cancelled, all funds will be
returned to the donors.