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|04-18-03: Local Civil Air Patrol part of nationwide
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
MONTEZUMA - The first civilian aircraft to fly over the devastation of
the World Trade Center was flown by the Civil Air Patrol.
"CAP was able to take the first photos of the entire scene and was
useful in identifying likely spots where survivors might be," said Jonas Foote,
assistant commander of Grand Lake Squad 710 of the Civil Air Patrol, adding the mission
was part of the patrol's emergency services.
Officially organized in December 1941, the Civil Air Patrol's primary
mission was to patrol the East Coast.
"The government realized there were thousands of privately owned
planes. With the military totally involved in World War II overseas, the Civil Air Patrol
did patrol the East Coast and found German U-boats close enough to torpedo our east shore.
In fact, (CAP) sunk two German submarines," said Foote, a Celina native who travels
from Greenville every Thursday evening for the local CAP meetings at Lakefield Airport in
Now, 60 years later, CAP is still ready to assist wherever needed,
maintaining 1,700 units nationwide with more than 61,000 members as young as 12 years old
through senior citizens.
Foote said Squad 710 has eight cadets (aged 12-18 years) and seven
seniors (19 years and older) who take part in a variety of activities, not the least of
which is search-and-rescue.
"About 85 percent of inland search-and-rescue operations are
handled by Civil Air Patrol. For one reason, it's less expensive. Our expenses are about
$150 per hour compared with $1,500 per hour for military aircraft to do the same
thing," he said.
Foote explained how the search missions work.
The local unit has mobile tracking devices that read signals beamed via
satellite from downed aircraft within a 40-mile radius. Usually, they drive to the crash
scene still operating the tracking device from the car.
"Of course, in this very flat, rural area, news of a plane crash
travels very fast and everybody knows where it is. And, lucky or unlucky, not much happens
in this part of Ohio," Foote said.
But when something does happen, Civil Air Patrol squads are trained to
provide disaster relief, transport medical materials, perform damage assessment among
Membership is down in the local squad as members go off to college and
seniors retire or move away.
To generate new interest and demonstrate what membership can offer, the
local CAP will host an open house on May 3 from 1-5 p.m. in the large hangar at the
airport in Montezuma.
Many former members have gone on to serve in the military and at least
one did not forget his hometown group.
"Kevin Bertke serves with the Air National Guard in Columbus as a
KC-135 crew chief. He served in Northern Watch last year in Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan,
and gave us the American flag that was displayed in his plane," Foote said indicating
a folded flag in a wooden triangular box in the meeting room.
Bertke has also hosted cadets in Columbus and has taken them on
demonstration flights for an up-close look at how mid-air refueling is accomplished.
"We do a lot of aerospace education in the squad, including flight
lessons at reduced rates, orientation flights with the military at Wright Patterson Air
Force Base, plus summer camps, weekend camping and many weekend events like fly-ins,"
Last year's fly-in at Lakefield saw the cadets ground-marshaling
(directing grounded planes) about 20 planes.
Foote recalled a favorite outing with CAP in 1995 when he spent two
weeks in Oshkosh, Wis., at the world's largest air show.
"I ground marshaled 6,000 airplanes," he said.
Collection for U.S. Troops set
Civil Air Patrol will collect donations of quality of life items for
American troops in Iraq from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday in the American Legion parking lot in
Items suggested include: individually wrapped pieces of hard candy,
peanuts, pretzels and other snacks, microwave popcorn, coffee, sugar, creamer, tea bags,
hot chocolate, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes and paste, soap, wet wipes, wrap-around
sunglasses, batteries, videos, DVDs, music cassettes and CDs, small board games like
chess, checkers, dominoes, Uno, puzzles, comic books, playing cards, and recent
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