Sidney flight sergeant cadet Riley Newlove with a laptop with his peers in Langley, flight sergeant cadets Roberta Grimard and Riley Diesner on the other end of the connection. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Sidney flight sergeant cadet Riley Newlove with a laptop with his peers in Langley, flight sergeant cadets Roberta Grimard and Riley Diesner on the other end of the connection. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Sidney, Langley air cadets form impressive union through pandemic

676 Kitty Hawk commanding officer calls training merger between programs a national success story

When a pandemic threatened to undo hard-practiced discipline, the cadets of Sidney’s 676 Kitty Hawk and Langley’s 746 Lightning Hawk squadrons proved that it – nor the distance of the Salish Sea – could not keep the Royal Canadian Air Cadets from uniting in uncertain times.

The effect of lockdowns was felt differently in each region of the province and chapter of the cadets. Sidney’s 676 squad briefly returned to in-person training in October after eight months of meeting remotely. When they were yet again ordered out of their field house per public health guidelines in November, the Kitty Hawk squadron was forced to find a way to facilitate training in a new and engaging way.

On the mainland, Langley’s larger air cadet squadron had been tuning in remotely, every week, since the onset of the pandemic in February 2020. The Lightning Hawk squadron developed a system to last throughout Langley’s indefinite lockdown, although they still experienced the difficulty of keeping 150 youth engaged.

The solution to Kitty Hawk’s return to remote training was the same as Lightning Hawk’s solution to preserve urgency after a year of meeting online.

RELATED STORY: Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Other than weeks of competition between squads, “you don’t see this level of interaction and involvement,” said 676 squadron commanding officer (CO) Sean Kelly. “There’s been a number of cadet units, right across Canada, that have tried doing something like what we’re doing right now … but I think that this has been one of the most successful stories in all of Canada for that collaboration.”

Kelly was first to petition the squads’ collaboration, looking to decades of personal history. He volunteered as a military reservist while working as a cadet instructor and was one of the longest-serving members of his alma mater, Langley’s 746 squadron. When talking this year to Langley CO Maj. Groome, Kelly was talking with a longtime friend and former cadet.

“Our two training officers spent countless hours working together to make sure the cadets really had everything they needed for fun training classes,” Kelly said. “Of course the cadets themselves spent a lot of time working and collaborating. The skill-side knowledge they’ve developed with each other – through Zoom, through phone calls, through different ways they’ve been able to connect – they’ve actually grown as a team.”

Riley Newlove, a cadet flight sergeant and Stelly’s Secondary student, is one of the 676’s most senior cadets at 15. His peer cadet at squadron 746 is more than two years older, providing totally new opportunities for peer-to-peer mentorship, Newlove said.

“It’s almost like a big brother relationship,” Kelly noted. “It really had 746 taking us underneath their wing, and from there … it got to show the extreme value that it had by us taking part in everything together.”

ALSO READ: Sidney’s Kittyhawk air cadets host bottle drive Saturday

“The cadets of Lightning Hawk also appreciated the presence of their guests,” reads a collaborative article regarding the merger written by Newlove and Langley cadets Roberta Grimard and Riley Diesner. Langley Cadet Sergeant Antonio Hakko said, “with having new people join our squadron, we gather more ideas; you get different perspectives … I certainly found having our two squadrons join was very helpful.”

“A lot of the credit should go to 746 for what they did to help us, but I can say we helped them with morale,” Kelly said.

The squads intend to meet face-to-face for the first time once pandemic restrictions are lifted on both sides of the Strait of Georgia. Until then, collaborative efforts like the joint article will be encouraged to engage cadets and drive recruitment.

A typical year sees 70 cadets in the halls of Kitty Hawk’s field house, while this year saw only 30, said Kelly. The CO intends a recruitment drive to muster around 100 cadets for the new year.

“Anytime that we can get large groups of youth together for a common positive goal, it’s a really good thing,” Kelly said.

RELATED STORY: Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy


Do you have a story tip? Email: kiernan.green@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

LangleySidney

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Barriers to rental housing brought on by no-pet rules add stress to renters, says councillor. (Pixabay)
Saanich councillor wants to remove barriers to housing for pet owners

Motion calling for province to amend lease stipulations against pet ownership defeated in 5-4 vote

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Most Read