A Freeport woman who began thinking of a pilot’s license seven years ago – when she was 13 – has become only the second woman from Maine to win the Civil Air Patrol’s highest cadet award.

Olivia Fowler, a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, accepted the General Carl A. Spatz Award from Brig. Gen. Gerald Bolduc of the Maine Air National Guard during a ceremony on June 4 in Augusta. Fowler, a member of the Civil Air Patrol Maine Wing’s 58th Composite Squadron since 2009, was promoted to the rank of cadet colonel. She has completed all 16 achievements of the cadet program and then passed a rigorous four-part exam consisting of a challenging physical fitness test, and written exams and essay questions.

“This award represents the countless hours that I have spent training and studying, preparing my uniform and gear, organizing meetings and activities, working through problems, making mistakes, and growing from them,” Fowler said in an email to the Tri-Town Weekly. “It represents the sweat and pain and challenges I’ve faced, but most importantly, it represents the dedication of the outstanding people who have guided and mentored me over the years.

“The actual requirements for this promotion are two exhaustive exams in leadership and aerospace, a physical fitness test, and a character essay, but the prerequisites are several years of CAP experience. In CAP, cadets start as followers and learners and gradually work their way up into leadership and teaching roles, while demonstrating competence and military bearing through a variety of tests and requirements.”

Fowler is the daughter of David and Mary Fowler of Freeport. David Fowler is public affairs officer for the Portland Civil Air Patrol squadron. The Spaatz Award is earned by about 0.5 percent of the cadets that join Civil Air Patrol, he said.

The Civil Air Patrol serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It is  a volunteer organization with three congressionally assigned key missions: emergency services, which includes search and rescue (by air and ground) and disaster relief operations; aerospace education for youth and the general public; and cadet programs for teenage youth.

David Fowler said that his daughter expressed interest in a pilot’s license at 13, and he was going about getting his own license at about the same time. She took lessons , needing 40 hours of flight time with a certified flight instructor, in addition to 10 hours of solo flights.

“She wasn’t allowed to get her license until she was 14,” David Fowler said. “She got it on her 17th birthday from Maine Aviation in Portland.”

Fowler completed an ambitious senior project that dovetailed perfectly with her interest in aviation. She found an internship in Belgium, and helped design the cockpit of a small aircraft.

During her time at Embry-Riddle, where she is pursuing a career on the commercial side of aeronautics as an engineer, Fowler completed an internship for NATO in Rome. She also interned last summer with Boeing.

This will be her last year – last month, actually – as a cadet, but Fowler plans to continue on with Civil Air Patrol as a senior member to help guide and mentor other young men and women to reach their potential.

“This award is the culmination of my entire cadet career,” Fowler said. “It’s  the highest achievement a cadet can reach and very few make it this far. It signifies that I’ve dedicated a significant part of my life to developing myself and my fellow cadets as leaders and citizens, and I’ve worked hard and put my all into the CAP cadet program. This award closes out my cadet career since I’m almost 21, at which point I will have to transfer to senior member status.”

“It took her a lot of work,” David Fowler said. “But she stuck with it. She set her goals six years ago. I was very proud of her for doing that.”

Susan Melrose Yurek, the first woman from Maine to win the award, was present at the June 4 ceremony.

“It was wicked cool to meet her,” Fowler said.


Olivia Fowler stands with  her David Fowler, as she accepts a prestigious Civil Air Patrol award on June 4 in Augusta.

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