Air patrol seeks new members

Published 10:16 pm Friday, May 24, 2013

Civil Air Patrol cadets Cadet Airman first class Austin Fay and Cadet Airman Logan Riggins get a lesson from a pilot at a Civil Air Patrol event.

Civil Air Patrol cadets Cadet Airman first class Austin Fay and Cadet Airman Logan Riggins get a lesson from a pilot at a Civil Air Patrol event. (Submitted Photo)

The Tidewater Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol will welcome interested visitors to an open house next week for folks to find out more about the program.

The official volunteer auxiliary for the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol offers a program for adults, as well as a cadet program for ages 12 to 18.

The Civil Air Patrol was born one week prior to the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 150,000 volunteers with a love for aviation wanted to form an organization that would allow them to put their planes and flying skills to use in defense of their country. During World War II, the patrol logged more than 500,000 flying hours, sank two enemy submarines and saved hundreds of crash victims, according to the organization’s website.

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After the war, President Harry Truman incorporated the patrol as a nonprofit organization, and it later became the auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force.

There’s a space for everyone to volunteer, said local 2nd Lt. Pamela Copeland.

“You can have any skill,” she said. “It’s not restricted to flight or aeronautics.”

These days, the Civil Air Patrol specializes in search and rescue, aeronautics education, community service and more. The cadet program emphasizes leadership, character development and physical fitness.

The cadet program is great for young people who are considering careers in the military or in aviation, Copeland said.

“It’s to teach them leadership, but it’s based on a military background,” she said. “They can earn flight time towards their pilot’s license.”

The organization also helps with disaster recovery, Copeland said. Some squadrons are on the ground now in Oklahoma helping the state recover from destructive tornados it experienced earlier this week.

“You can get into anything you want in the Civil Air Patrol,” said Copeland, who got involved because her son is interested in the military and joined the cadets. “It just depends on what you’re interested in doing.”

The open house will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Executive Airport off U.S. Route 58 in Chesapeake. The local squadron has about 40 members between its adults and cadets but wants more, Copeland said.

“We’re just trying to get our name out there and build our squadron up,” she said.

For more information, contact Steven Palmer at 232-0176 or palmerddj@hotmail.com.