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04-18-03: Local Civil Air Patrol part of nationwide organization
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 Montezuma.
    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 other services.
    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," he said.
    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 Coldwater.
    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 paperbacks.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
All content copyright 2003
The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822