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Doug Clark: 15-year-old Capt. Genesis Middlebos is destined for great things

SUNDAY, JAN. 22, 2017, 5 A.M.

Genesis Middlebos, a 10th-grader at Washington Virtual Academies poses in front of airplanes at Pappy Boyington Field in Hayden on Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017. Taking classes online has freed her up to pursue her dream of getting her private pilot’s license. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Doug Clark,columnist

The way Genesis Middlebos tells it, she was just 9 years old when the course of her life was set.

It happened on an average day as she walked up the front porch steps to her home. Genesis looked up and noticed a jet flying by.

The girl had surely seen airplanes before, of course, but this one gave her pause.

“I couldn’t understand what kept it up there,” she said. “It went against every bit of physics that I knew.”

And that’s all it took. No matter what, the precocious child knew that she, too, would one day defy gravity and soar.

“I caught the bug,” said Genesis, who is now 15.

Excuse me. I meant Capt. Genesis. That’s the rank the Spokane teenager holds in the Civil Air Patrol.

Genesis is also the cadet commander of the Coeur d’Alene Composite Squadron. The group, with 32 cadets, meets four times a month at the Coeur d’Alene Airport.

The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

In a military-like setting, CAP gives youth (ages 12-21) real-world responsibilities in disciplines like search and rescue, radio communications and providing disaster relief.

More importantly, CAP cadets like Genesis can learn how to fly for free.

I met Genesis on a recent cold Tuesday night when her squadron was meeting at the Coeur d’Alene Airport on the outskirts of Hayden.

Dressed in a crisp, dark uniform, Genesis escorted me through the CAP facilities and introduced me to some of her squadron’s adult leaders.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my tour guide was no ordinary 15-year-old kid.

Genesis has always been quite advanced for her age, explained her mom, Jasmin, who cited some amazing examples, like …

At age 2, Genesis helped pack baskets at the food bank. At age 4, she was reading, and she had her own email address at age 6.

Two years later, the youngster was studying the precepts of online banking.

“It’s not always easy raising such a go-getter,” said Jasmin, laughing. “Sometimes I’m pulling my hair out.”

Turning serious for a moment, Jasmin added that her daughter possesses “a heart of gold and lots of humanity.”

She also knows the importance of research.

Listening to Genesis tell me her life story, I couldn’t help but notice a commonality. Anytime she had a question or an obstacle to overcome, the girl would turn on her laptop and figure out a solution.

“How do airplanes fly?”

Genesis Googled that question after her front porch eureka moment. She’s been studying the science of aerodynamics ever since.

Her computer also led her to the Young Eagles. The program gives youths a taste of aviation with a free airplane ride.

Genesis signed up. Sure enough, the experience was everything she dreamed it would be.

“It was the most amazing feeling. I had not made the wrong choice,” she said.

“You feel weightless. I could see tens of hundreds of miles pouring out before me. You realize you have the world at your fingertips.

“I knew I had to find a way” to become a pilot, she said.

Even more importantly, however, her investigations led to the Washington Virtual Academies. An online public charter school, WAVA allows students to take classes online at an individualized pace and schedule.

Genesis, a 10th-grader, is taking coursework in subjects like French, honors algebra and honors literature.

“I prefer the online schooling,” said Genesis, adding that it has freed her up to pursue some of her additional interests, like Irish dancing, Civil War re-enacting, figure skating and barrel racing.

Barrel racing?

“It’s a way to go fast,” she said. “Plus, I love horses.”

Her father, Daniel, a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy, was the exception to the cyber rule. He gets credit for telling his daughter about the Civil Air Patrol.

Genesis has already flown over 30 hours, with solo time included.

Remember that name, Genesis Middlebos.

Write it down. Tuck it away. I’m willing to bet that we will all hear it again someday, and associated with something really big.

Who knows? Maybe Genesis will be on the first rocket ride to Mars.

Being an astronaut, she told me, is one of her major goals. Well, after she makes it into the Air Force Academy, that is.

“It’s an honor to be part of the aeronautical community,” she said, adding that she hopes telling her story will inspire other kids. “I want them to realize – they can!”

Published: Jan. 22, 2017, 5 a.m.

CAP VOLUNTEERNOW

Cadets gain tech experience in CyberPatriot competition – by CDAPRESS.COM

Cybersecurity cadets

Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2016 12:00 am

DEVIN HEILMAN/Staff Writer | 1 comment

POST FALLS — As cybersecurity threats become more prominent, so does the knowledge to guard against them and fight back when they are launched.

Proficiency in cybersecurity is a goal of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program, at the center of which is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

A team of five cadets from the Coeur d’Alene Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol participated Saturday in the state round of the CyberPatriot competition after scoring in the highest level — platinum — in the first two rounds.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it to the platinum tier,” said team captain and Cadet Staff Sgt. Nathan Helminger, 17. “I’m happy we’ve gone so far. Since it’s the first year, I’m happy with what we’ve done.”

Nathan and his comrades had the highest performance of all teams in the state division and were the only team in Idaho to place in the platinum tier. This is a new team and new venture for the cadets, who range from eighth-graders to high-schoolers.

“I think everybody should know how to use their computer and keep it safe from hackers,” Nathan said. “You could argue that it’s not technically important to every person, but you have to have somebody who knows what they’re doing to fix something when it’s broken.”

At the competition, the team spent six hours troubleshooting and problem solving while taking on the roles of Internet technology professionals who were tasked with managing a small company’s cyber network. The mock scenario required the cadets to find and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities, which included using software patches, scanning for viruses and utilizing real-world applications for correcting the programs.

“They’re getting a crash course in a lot of cybersecurity ideas that will help them wherever they go in life,” said team coach and CAP Coeur d’Alene Composite Squadron Capt. Paul Brand. “Everything has embedded operating systems these days, and that’s just going to increase.”

The team has assembled every Monday since September to prepare for the first two rounds as well as Saturday’s challenge.

“It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose, there’s just so much information,” Brand said. “That’s why we emphasize problem solving.”

CAP Cadet Bailey Brodwater, 14, said networking, or understanding how computers communicate, is a difficult part of cybereducation. He said when something is challenging, he and his teammates collaborate to accomplish tasks together.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “We all work together and help each other if we have any problems.”

The team reached the All Service Division Platinum Tier and was the only team in Idaho with the opportunity to move on to the next competition. However, Brand said the cadets did not do as well as in past competitions and it’s unlikely they’ll advance to the regional competition, but many of the cadets are young enough to return next year to compete again.

“This is partly due to the increased difficulty of the higher tier and more advanced round,” Brand said. “They still were the only platinum tier team in competition for Idaho, so they did score highest in the state for that category.”

About 70 area All Service Division teams competed in Saturday’s competition and the top teams in the nation won all-expense paid trips to Baltimore for the National Finals Competition to earn national recognition and scholarship money.

Even though the Coeur d’Alene Composite Squadron may not advance this year, the cadets now have a firm understanding of what they will be challenged with next time as well as more knowledge of cybersecurity issues. This experience is great training for the next generation, Brand said, as preparation for the job force and recognition of online threats.

“Anybody can do it, and everybody should try to learn this; that’s my opinion on this,” Nathan said. “Everybody should try it once so that they can fix their computer if they need to, that way they’re not spending all this money so somebody can go on and just type a few words.”

Brand said official scores will be released by CyberPatriot headquarters later this week.

INTEGRITY VOLUNTEER SERVICE EXCELLENCE RESPECT

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