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The aims of the Air Cadet Movement are to develop in youth, between the ages of 12-18, the attributes of good citizenship and leadership, to promote physical fitness and to stimulate an interest in the aviation and aerospace industry. The Abbotsford Air Cadet Squadron has a long history of carrying out these aims.
The 861 Lions Squadron, as the squadron was first known, received its charter on August 18, 1978 under the command of Captain Duncan Netzel; their original sponsor was the Abbotsford Lion’s Club. The first location in which the cadet’s paraded was at the Abbotsford Airport (Hangar). After this, the squadron then moved to Peardonville Elementary School.
Many cadets training at this squadron have achieved outstanding personal success. Some have become leaders, some have achieved professional success as commercial pilots, some have become strong individuals with characteristics supporting adult success and a few have gone on to become members of our Canadian Forces involved in relief efforts all over the world. Through the devotion and enthusiasm of the Cadet Instructors Cadre (Officers of the Canadian Forces) and countless volunteer hours invested by the Air Cadet League Sponsoring Committee, the cadet movement is alive and well in Abbotsford.
As the squadron grew, demand for more space was evident, they then moved to a larger building at 3265 McCallum Road North and from there, moved to the Cow Barn at the Exhibition grounds. The 861 squadron, as it stands today next to Rotary Stadium at Ex Park, was built and subsequently opened in April 1991.
In 1984, the Royal Canadian Air Force Association (861 Wing) became the official sponsor of the Abbotsford Air Cadets. Their dedicated effort in providing financial support, accommodations and training opportunities for the cadets continued until 2012. The current sponsor of the 861 cadets is the 861 Silverfox Sponsoring Committee, ACL of C; they continue the ‘helping legacy’ that the RCAF (861Wing) has firmly established for Abbotsford cadets.
Today 861 Silverfox continues to build its connection to the community. Over the years, they have become well known in helping out the service groups such as the Abbotsford Food Bank, Cadets Caring for Canada, Royal Canadian Legion, and the Lions Club. They are an integral part of the City of Abbotsford’s Remembrance Day parade, Vimy Ridge Ceremony, and the Battle of Britain. They may also be seen helping out in the First Flight for Kids program at the Abbotsford airport and take pride in volunteering at the Abbotsford Airshow every year. Their smiles are absolutely glowing when tasked with assisting air show guests in the aircraft static display area, handing out pamphlets, carrying the Canadian flags in the opening ceremony or just looking to the skies above and enjoying the show.
Today, the Cadet Program continues to evolve and adapt to meet the expectations of our changing society. The partnership established in 1941 between the civilian based Air Cadet League of Canada and the Royal Canadian Air Force (transferred over to the Canadian Forces in 1969) continues to thrive and build the character of our youth through the cadet training program. Whatever the goal or dream is of a youth, the air cadet program in Abbotsford is there to assist them in achieving their success no matter how big or small.
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