Civil Air Patrol vital piece of American airpower for 76 years
By Staff Sgt. Christopher Gross, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 01, 2017
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Seventy-six years ago, the Civil Air Patrol found its way into existence by administrative order from the Office of Civilian Defense, playing a crucial role in helping protect the United States homeland during World War II.
Today, as the Air Force’s official auxiliary force, they continue that role along with several others.
Since, Dec. 1, 1941, the CAP has evolved from protecting America against invading German U-boats to now being a main component of search and rescue missions, providing emergency services and guiding the next generation of young aviators.
“We’re necessary and we’re becoming more necessary,” said CAP Capt. Jason Linscott, Mississippi Wing’s Golden Triangle Composite Squadron Commander.
Linscott, a former Navy E-6 Mercury pilot and currently a 14th Student Squadron T-6A Texan II simulator instructor here, said his CAP squadron does even more than providing SAR and emergency services; they also play a big role in supporting Columbus Air Force Base flying missions.
He said from January to September, his squadron – which operates the Cessna 172s and 182s -- flies low-level flight surveys, because every low-level route has to be assessed at least every two years. During these assessments, his pilots look for cell phone towers and other infrastructure that might have been constructed and unknown to pilots at Columbus AFB.
Linscott said CAP can also provide critical assistance during national disasters, most recently being the hurricanes that impacted Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. They can help by providing airborne photography to agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency, who will use the imagery to evaluate areas that are not accessible by road.
From those images, he said they can analyze the damage and begin to create plans to help the recovery process. Although no pilots from the GTC Squadron were able to assist in operations, Linscott said the Mississippi Wing did have several pilots go to each of the affected areas and assist.
For the youth that are interested in serving in this type of dedicated volunteer capacity, the CAP has an internal aerospace education program.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring up the next generation,” said CAP Lt. Col. Andrew Yingst, GTC Squadron Deputy Commander for Cadets. “You see these kids come in with no skills and no self-assurance when they’re 12 and after participating in our leadership program for several years they turn into young adults that are comfortable standing up and speaking in front of people and they have self-discipline from the drill training that we do.”
For Yingst, a former Air Force C-130 Hercules pilot and currently a 14th STUS T-6 simulator instructor, said he joined CAP in 1983 and was a member for several years before attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, when his son showed interest in the program he then rejoined as a senior staff member about six years ago.
The GTC Squadron has about 20 senior staff members and almost 15 cadets. The senior members help run the cadet program and they also stay current on pilot requirements in order to conduct CAP missions.
For those interested in joining CAP as a cadet or senior member, they should go to http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/how_to_join/.
Linscott said that he suggests those interested attend at least three meetings to see if CAP is a good fit for their volunteer goals. If they decide to join, cadets will fill out an application online and pay a fee, currently $30. Senior members, or adult volunteers, have to fill out a printed application and get fingerprints taken for a background check, and mail in a fee, currently $65.
Linscott also said that some parents of cadets can also choose to join as a Patron member. This allows a parent the ability to participate on a very limited basis along with their cadets, like being a chaperone at events. The parents would submit the same application, fingerprint card, and pay a fee, currently $30.