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CAP: In 1st Air Force spotlight

  • Published
  • By Mitzi Palmer
Headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., 1st Air Force -- one of four numbered air forces assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command -- has completed a new permanent display on its grounds in Panama City.

The display features three aircraft -- an F-15 Eagle, an all-weather tactical fighter; an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multi-role fighter; and a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172. The Cessna was chosen for display because of CAP's significant contributions to the mission of 1st Air Force, said Lt. Gen. William Etter, commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region -- 1st Air Force and a member of CAP's Board of Governors.

"Civil Air Patrol is an integral part of 1st Air Force's mission," Etter said. "They fly about 10,000 sorties for us annually, and they provide a capability we otherwise wouldn't have at such a cost-effective level. We would be remiss not to include it."

CAP and the U.S. Air Force maintain a civilian-military relationship based on CAP's status as the service branch's auxiliary when performing Air Force-assigned missions. On average, CAP flies 60-80 percent of the day-to-day sorties of 1st Air Force, which has the sole responsibility for ensuring the aerospace control and air defense of the continental U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. First Air Force is also the designated air component for U.S. Northern Command -- the senior agency in the U.S.Theater Air Control System.

The CAP Cessna 172 stands next to the F-15 and F-16, which will eventually be repainted to depict aircraft that were part of the main response after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Civil Air Patrol is delighted to have this place of honor among our 1st Air Force brethren," said CAP's National Commander Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr. "Our thanks to Gen. Etter and his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, for recognizing CAP's valuable contributions to the Air Force and to America."

As noted on the display's plaques, the F-15 and F-16 have been key components of the combat forces committed to the Global War on Terrorism since 2001 -- flying thousands of sorties in support of operations Noble Eagle (Homeland Defense), Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom.

After 9/11 Civil Air Patrol provided some of the airborne images of ground zero to first responders.

The 172 displayed at 1st Air Force was donated by CAP. The two fighters are on loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

"Civil Air Patrol is deeply honored to be represented in 1st Air Force's permanent display of aircraft vital to the nation's well-being," said Don Rowland, CAP's chief operating officer. "The CAP Cessna 172 included in the display serves as a reminder of our members' 66-year role as the auxiliary of the Air Force, providing not only support for its missions whenever tasked, but also serving as a force multiplier day after day, month after month, year after year."

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in CAP's Volunteer Magazine available online.