Walmart awards grant to squadron

Courtesy photo: Dennis Tramp of the Brookings Walmart store presents $500 to Tyler Gross of the Big Sioux Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol.

BROOKINGS – Big Sioux Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol was recently awarded a $500 Walmart Community Grant to purchase a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS). The sUAS will be able to be used for both aerospace education activities as well as training for emergency services missions. 

On Thursday, Sept. 16, Big Sioux hosted Dennis Tramp, manager of Brookings’ local Walmart, and he presented about Civil Air Patrol and the purchased sUAS.  

Capt. Tyler Gross, Big Sioux’s commander, and Capt. Ben Kallas, Big Sioux’s aerospace education officer and assistant deputy commander of cadets, recently completed the requirements for the small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) pilot certification in South Dakota Wing. This certification gives them the ability to fly Civil Air Patrol’s sUAS in Search and Rescue Exercises (SAREXes).  Gross and Kallas plan to utilize their sUAS pilot certifications to teach young people in Big Sioux’s cadet program and give them flight experience specifically with sUAS.  

“There is no question that sUAS and UAS is the next step in aerospace, and with the Walmart Community Grant this gives us an amazing opportunity to expose cadets to a new facet of aerospace. I am honored that I can help give the cadets the opportunity and exposure to different facets of aerospace; not just becoming a pilot or an astronaut,” said Kallas. 

Big Sioux Composite Squadron meets every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at 413 W. Second St. S., Brookings, SD 57006. 

Adults (18+) interested in becoming involved with Civil Air Patrol may contact the squadron commander, Capt. Tyler Gross, via email at [email protected]. Youth interested in joining the cadet program (over age 12, but younger than 18) may contact the deputy commander of cadets, 2nd Lt. Rudy Trias, via email at [email protected] 

South Dakota Wing, CAP, has over 400 members with units based in Brookings, Custer, Miller/Faulkton, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea. The wing can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams, and small search drones to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies. 

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