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Local Civil Air Patrol ready when needed

There is a Civil Air Patrol Squadron based at the Springville-Spanish Fork Airport that is one of the most qualified and mission-ready of the 13 squadrons in the state of Utah. The Utah Wing of the Civil Air Patrol has nine airplanes, two of which are based at our local airport. Furthermore, the squadron utilizes the most advanced technology in the country. That is something in our community that we should be proud of, and it is something that most people don’t know anything about.

The Civil Air Patrol is the volunteer auxiliary of the United States Air Force and a part of the Total Force definition on par with the other parts of the USAF Team. CAP is tasked with three broad missions: providing aerospace education to the general public, offering a cadet program and supporting local civil authorities and national interests with emergency services. Utah County has had a CAP squadron since the late 1940s. Today’s squadron, known as the Phantom Squadron, is named after the famous McDonnell Douglas F-4 fighter bomber. The squadron is composed of a Senior Flight with 43 adult members and a Cadet Flight with 35 members ranging in age from 12 to just under 21 years of age.

Historically, a major activity of the CAP has been search and rescue missions for overdue aircraft, hunters, hikers and the like. During the past few years, fewer hours have been devoted to that type of activity due to advances in other technologies such as cell phone tracking. The squadron has a new role in communication support utilizing an airborne platform. New aerial imaging technology being integrated into the CAP to aid in natural disaster analysis supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency or in-state disaster management. Another interesting responsibility our local squadron has been given is Homeland Security training involving Hill AFB F-16s to maintain their proficiency at intercepting slow-moving small airplanes that intrude into restricted airspace.

As is typical of the military organization model, the CAP has a training and proficiency requirement for each job or position required to carry out its mission. For a number of years, our local squadron has been focused on mission readiness. As a result, the Phantom Squadron has more members qualified for both flight and mission support base operations than any other squadron in Utah and most other squadrons around the country. This is the result of the commitment to the mission and desire to be ready when needed. I also think it has a bit to do with our local culture. What a great example of our motto to serve daily.

CAP accepts volunteers without respect to race, gender, age or physical disability. CAP volunteers come from all walks of life and do not need to have an aviation or military background. All that is needed is a desire to help our community and a willingness to learn. For more information, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or follow the Phantom Squadron on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Civil-Air-Patrol-Phantom-Squadron. Lt. Col. Jim Stewart, who assisted in the preparation of this article, is also available to contact at 210-724-6342.