Meet The Commander
Captain Gabriel McDowell assumed command of the Illinois Wing Summer Encampment after the 2017 encampment season. Before taking command, he served as the Deputy Commander, Commandant of Cadets for several years and in various administrative roles. Captain McDowell began his time in Civil Air Patrol as a cadet in the Fall of 2002 and has not missed a Summer Encampment yet. "My passion has always been to educate and mentor cadets in CAP, and I believe that encampments are the ideal environment for cadets to practice the skills they have been studying so hard in their leadership texts. Encampments give cadets a safe environment to fail, grow, and succeed."
While not at an encampment, Captain McDowell can be found in the sky. He is a Captain with SkyWest Airlines based at Chicago's O'hare International Airport, flying the Embraer 175 jet. "The first time I got behind the controls of an aircraft was at a CAP event. From that moment on, I was HOOKED! Unfortunately, my USAF career aspirations didn't pan out; however, I think it's important that cadets know that, while we would like all of our cadets to continue serving their community, state, and nation after they depart Civil Air Patrol, it doesn't always mean being a member of the armed services. Encampments introduce cadets to various career paths in aviation, STEM, law enforcement, and of course, the United States Air Force."
Captain McDowell has attended two Spring and nineteen Summer Encampments. As a Senior Member, he has earned Level III, Grover Loening Professional Development Award and holds a Master Rating in Cadet Program. While a Cadet, Captain McDowell earned the Amelia Earhart Award and the rank of Cadet Captain.