Lowcountry Aviation gets award

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Members of the ACE Basin Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the benefits of their partnership with Dr. Marco Cavazzoni and Lowcountry Aviation. In the spring of 2019, the Civil Air Patrol unit, which met in Cottageville at the police department was really beginning to grow. (Since last spring the unit has seen a 300% increase in its membership, making it the fifth largest squadron in all of South Carolina Wing.)

Outgrowing the location in Cottageville meant looking for a place to host weekly meetings, and Maj. Tina Peterson and a former cadet, Chatham Harris, began talking with Dr. Marco Cavazzoni of Lowcountry Aviation to meet the squadron’s growing needs. Dr. Cavazzoni offered space in his hangar at the end of Aviation Way, giving cadets and senior members an aviation-based learning environment for their weekly meetings. In addition to the offer of space, Cavazzoni and Lowcountry Aviation employees have taken the time to teach about aviation and aerospace careers.

Maj. Peterson, the ACE Basin Composite Squadron’s deputy commander for senior members, wrote the nomination packet for Lowcountry Aviation to be considered for the Frank G. Brewer Jr. Memorial Aerospace Award for a Community Organization.

Her written nomination includes the following:

“Lowcountry Aviation, LLC, is nominated by ACE Basin Composite Squadron and its aerospace education officer, Maj. Tina Peterson, CAP, for the Frank G. Brewer award, Category III. Lowcountry Aviation is owned and operated by Dr. Marco Cavazzoni at the Walterboro Airport (RBW) in Walterboro. Dr. Cavazzoni was instrumental in bringing the Boeing 787 Program to Charleston. His leadership and efforts brought many jobs to Charleston. Dr. Cavazonni was the first “boots on the ground” that started what is now one of the largest employers in the Charleston area.

“Dr. Cavazonni’s leadership efforts in the Lowcountry of South Carolina do not stop there. After establishing the 787 Program in Charleston, Dr. Cavazzoni retired from Boeing and decided to stay in the Lowcountry. After researching the area, Dr. Cavazzoni decided to start a small business in town of Walterboro. Dr. Cavazzoni selected Walterboro intentionally — a community of only approximately 10,000 people with residents split evenly white to non-white. Walterboro was once the location of the training site for the Tuskegee Airmen. However, in recent years, Walterboro has fallen on tough times. With much of the surrounding textile industry that once flourished in the area dying with global economy, Walterboro has felt the economic impact of an industrial depression. Sadly, with the loss of jobs, the town has been impacted by gangs, drug activity and violence. In 2010, the homicide rate in the county was the highest it had ever been, so State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) decided to put their offices in Walterboro to address the ever-increasing crime issues. Colleton County schools are underperforming compared to their counterparts in neighboring Charleston communities. The median income in Walterboro is $32,000 whereas Charleston is $70,000; home value in Walterboro average is $89,000 and in Charleston $367,000.

Dr. Cavazzoni did not let any of these statistics detour him from the task at hand. After retiring from a successful career at Boeing, where he also ran production of the Apache helicopter and foreign market assembly, he and his wife Diane built facilities along the airport in Walterboro, started a charter company, maintenance facility, certified Garmin dealer/repair and production of the Sky Arrow Aircraft.

“Dr. and Mrs. Cavazzoni have a clear vision to give back to a community that could use jobs and economic growth. Not only do they realize the value of economic impact, they are committed to giving back to a community that could benefit from mentorship. Because of that, they opened their facility to the local CAP squadron, the ACE Basin Composite Squadron to meet and have space at the airport. This partnership has been vital to the success of the unit.

“Prior to using the facility at Lowcountry Aviation, the unit was meeting several miles away at an old school with poor lighting, poor facilities and no room for growth. Additionally, as an organization whose goal is to create “future aerospace leaders,” they were not even meeting near an airport.

“The ability to meet on the Walterboro Airport has added credibility to the unit, established a foundation in aviation and created more excitement amongst the cadets.

“Dr. Cavazzoni additionally serves as a member of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission whose mission statement includes “providing safe and reliable air transportation for state government and business prospects; and by providing aviation education opportunities.” Dr. Cavazzoni has taken the time to ensure his employees are available to keep the facility open so the CAP squadron can meet; he has taught aerospace lessons to the members of the unit; opened on Saturdays to provide comfortable waiting areas to parents and senior members during cadet O-Flights; provided refreshments during cohort recruiting meetings and sup-ported the unit with various needs.

“Because Lowcountry Aviation has invested in the local community supporting aviation growth, industry growth, creating jobs and allowing the Civil Air Patrol Unit to meet in their facility, I recommend that they be considered for the Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award to an individual/organization.”

Now that Lowcountry Aviation has received the South Carolina Wing Frank G. Brewer Jr. Memorial Aerospace Award for a Community Organization, they are competing against six other wings (states) within Civil Air Patrol for the regional award. Their competition includes organizations from North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the National Capitol Wing.

For more information about the ACE Basin Composite Squadron, contact Maj. Tina Peterson at (843) 460-7445 or tina.peterson@scwgcap.org.

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