Trail of Tears Composite Squadron Competes in the National Civil Air Patrol High-Altitude Balloon Challenge

May 19, 2022 - Dr. Joe Murphy consults with the squadron cadets and answers questions related to their project ideas. Cadets Left to Right: C/A1C M. Kuntze, C/Amn N. Harris, and C/SSgt L. Ragain

Cape Girardeau, MO – The Trail of Tears Composite Squadron is one of 176 Civil Air Patrol Squadrons from around the country and one of only 4 from Missouri who have registered to compete in this year’s High-Altitude Balloon Challenge. The squadron’s cadets are responsible for designing an experiment or experiments that fit into a 50-mL centrifuge tube and has a total weight under 40 grams. The cadets’ projects are currently in the design phase.

The cadets must complete their project no later than July 21, 2022, as the experiment tube and a second control tube must be mailed to Indiana for launch by July 22, 2022. The experimental tubes will be launched on August 6, 2022, in a High-Altitude Balloon. The balloon is expected to reach approximately 100,000 ft into the air during its flight. After the flight, both the experimental tube and the control tube will be returned to the squadron for data analysis. Final analysis and a documentary video are due to competition on Sept 26, 2022.

The cadets will compete in the following categories:

Pre-launch video: The cadets must create a 2-minute video highlighting the process of designing the science experiment.
Mission Patch: The cadets must create a Mission Patch that highlights the squadron, Civil Air Patrol, the High-Altitude Balloon Challenge, and their experiment. The patches may be hand-drawn or digital.
After-Action Science Slide Report: After analyzing their data, the cadets must create a single large slide (48” by 36”) to present their scientific hypothesis, testing and analysis methods, data, results, and conclusion.
Documentary video: The cadets must a create video that explains the entire process of the experiment. The main focus on the 4-to-5-minute video is the post-launch activities.
Col Kittinger Cup: The Col Kittinger Cup will be awarded based on overall performance in the categories above.

The squadron would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Joe Murphy and Dr. Jonathan Kessler from the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Southeast Missouri State University for answering questions and mentoring during the design phase.

To learn more about the High Attitude Balloon Challenge, please visit:

To learn more about the Trail of Tears Composite Squadron, please visit our website,, or Facebook Page,

About Trail of Tears Composite Squadron

The Trail of Tears Composite Squadron in located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and serves the surrounding area. We currently have around 20 members. Recently, 2 cadets earn their Curry Awards and 1 cadet earn her Wright Brothers Award. Our members have participated in a variety of activities including being staff at Wing and Regional Cadet competitions, attending Aviation Day at the Missouri Capital, and participating in Search and Rescue training. The Trail of Tears Composite Squadron meets weekly at the Cape Armory (2626 Independence Rd, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703) on Thursdays at 6 pm. For more information about the squadron, visit our website

About Missouri Wing

The Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol is composed of over 800 members organized in almost thirty units located throughout the state. Assets include eight single-engine aircraft, twenty-two vehicles, and extensive communication equipment. The wing conducted four search and rescue missions, twenty-six training missions, as well as nine other state and federal support missions, in 2021 and was credited with two finds. Visit for more information.

About Civil Air Patrol

Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 555 single-engine aircraft and 2,250 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of all search and rescue operations within the contiguous United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 108 lives last year. CAP’s 56,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education resources. Members also serve as mentors to over 23,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.CAP.News or for more information.