By 1st Lt. Chris McClelland, CAP
What is CAP? This is a question I have asked myself many times over the last few days as I have been thinking about this article. CAP is the acronym for the Civil Air Patrol, which is officially an auxiliary of the United States Air Force, but to my family CAP represents something more. CAP is opportunity. The opportunity for my child, both male and female, to participate as a civilian in an organization that instills in its members the principles of leadership and accountability that make our nation’s Air Force the best in the world. It is an opportunity for my child to learn service and teamwork, but it also gives him an opportunity for hands-on training in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) areas of education as he learns as a cadet to participate in search and rescue and disaster relief operations on the ground as well as from the air. Participation in CAP is an investment in a brighter future for my child and an opportunity for him to learn and grow in ways that would be difficult to replicate anywhere else. As you read the following information about CAP, take a moment to wonder about the opportunity it could be for your child.
About CAP and Why a Local Hangar
The Phantom Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force, is kicking off fundraising activities for the construction of a new hangar at the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport to be used as a base for the squadron’s activities in Utah County. The hangar project would have room for three small aircraft and plenty of room for the cadet and senior member meetings and activities. If you are wondering how you can get involved in the funding of this worthy enterprise, please call Lt. Col. Jim Stewart, a local physician and CAP mission pilot at 210-724-6342 or visit www.phantomsquadron.org, where you will find a link that will facilitate a donation to the project and a link to a video about this project.
This project will cost about $350,000, so we are looking for donations of all sizes. So far, several generous individuals have donated approximately $60,000 or 20 percent of our goal. Please donate generously, but any amount helps towards a noble project that will help young people develop into responsible leaders of the future.
If you are between the ages of 12 and 18, male or female, and are interested in aviation and other opportunities mentioned in this article, we recommend you go to the website listed above, or you can attend one of our meetings currently held at the Provo Airport. We meet at 3131 Mike Jense Parkway, Provo, in the Utah Valley University Fire and Rescue Building, every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. New adult members are welcome, too, and you don’t have to be a pilot to join. In fact, most are not. For more information on joining CAP, call Capt. Paul Jensen, a CAP mission pilot, at (801)423-3802.
The Civil Air Patrol has three main missions: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs and Emergency Services. The Aerospace Education mission has both internal and external components. Internally, CAP educates its own members in matters of aerospace history and air power. Externally, programs at schools and in the community raise awareness of aerospace issues within the general public. Aerospace education personnel work with local teachers of all grade levels, particularly in providing TOP Flight, an opportunity for teachers to take to the air and experience flight with one of our pilots. This translates into increasing enthusiasm for aviation education in the classroom.
Perhaps the most important mission of CAP is to train the aerospace and business leaders of tomorrow in elements of leadership. The cadet program is where this happens. Leadership training, accepting and exercising positions of responsibility, and character-building exercises all play key roles in the cadet program. Within the cadet organization, young people learn the leadership and organizational styles of the military fashioned after the organization of the United States Air Force. One of the biggest draws to the cadet program are the many opportunities for cadets to learn about aviation and even get some flight time behind the controls of an actual aircraft in what are called Orientation Flights with a highly skilled pilot. There are even opportunities for the cadets to get substantial flight training and scholarships.
The other area in which CAP is involved is Emergency Services, which is divided into Disaster Relief and Search and Rescue. Disaster Relief involves providing help after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood or earthquake. It involves coordinating relief efforts with other state, federal and local agencies and transporting needed personnel to affected areas. CAP also ferries medical supplies and necessary organs for transplant in times of emergency. Search and Rescue involves searches for missing or downed aircraft. Nationwide last year, the Civil Air Patrol accounted for 83 “finds” of missing aircraft. The Air Force assigns these missions to CAP and provides the aircraft to conduct the searches. These aircraft are used regularly to conduct Search and Rescue exercises as well as actual live missions.