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Aviation Cadet World Reflects All Things EAA

Errol Severe
Aviation Cadet World founder and president Errol Severe sits in the world's only accessible F-105F/G cockpit.

October 24, 2013 - Errol D. Severe, EAA 450054, is on a dual mission to spread knowledge of his fellow aviation cadets from World War II and boost interest in EAA's mission of growing participation in aviation.

He does so in a number of ways, but his biggest project is the Aviation Cadet World at Silver Wings Field in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where he is the founder and president.

"The mission here is to tell the story of the boys, turned into men, who built the air arm of this nation," Severe said. "Very few people know who flying or aviation cadets were."

So who were they?

The Flying Cadet program started as part of the signal corps branch of the Army before WWI. It changed from that to the Air Service, then the Army Air Corps, and in June, 1941 became the Aviation Cadet Program. In 1947 it became the USAF. This program trained, pilots, navigators, bombardiers. A very few flying cadets were trained in photo, & engineering. These are the boys, turned into men, who built the air arm of this nation.

"Most great accomplishments in the air were done by these Cadets." Severe explained from first-hand experience. "Both A-bomb pilots, co-pilots, navigators and bombardiers were Cadets. I am honored to say I knew many of them."

The program for pilots in the USAF ceased in 1961, and for navigators in 1965. The Navy continued on until 1968 with a few classes as late as 1991. The US Air Force now relies on the Academies and ROTC, to train its pilots and aircrews. That is a trade off of men who were inspired, to those who are just motivated.

Severe wants to re-educate the world on the great men who were products of this training with a hands-on learning experience at his Aviation Cadet World.

"Time travel is our strong suit," Severe said, explaining the facility's mission of making visitors feel like they are at a cadet training base from the 1940s and '50s.

The education process starts with aircraft, of course, and AvCad World is home to many aircraft including a Convair T-29, F-100 Super Sabre, Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, and what Severe called "the most loved one," an F-105F/G Thunderchief that was flown during the Son Tay raid in North Vietnam. It's the world's only F-105 that has an accessible cockpit; you can climb up and sit in it.

Aviation Cadet World even has a base chapel, the Silver Wings Chapel, just like cadet training centers had during the time period.

A second hangar under construction will be dedicated to teaching aircraft homebuilding skills. A GlaStar is already being constructed to teach local kids about aircraft building even though the hangar isn't finished.

In addition to the sheet metal and machine shop that houses the GlaStar, the hangar will have several classrooms dedicated to teaching kids in a hands-on atmosphere, including a wood-model building classroom that already has a number of models ready to be constructed.

AvCad World also has a one-of-a-kind flight simulator originally made as an arcade game that never went into production. It is a full-motion sim where the pilots play a game of "in-air soccer" with other planes while learning the instrumentation and feel of flying.

When the hangar is completed, Severe hopes to have training and building sessions on a number of World War I fighters and even has been in contact with Robert Baslee, the man who built four full-scale Nieuport 17 planes for the movie Flyboys.

After a small fleet of these aircraft are built, Severe and the Aviation Cadet Museum plan to take train some pilots to perform an air show in them.

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