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Civil Air Patrol celebrates 77 years, remains vital to Columbus AFB

Civil Air Patrol Maj. Trey Breckenridge and CAP Capt. Tibor Pechan, CAP pilots, stand in front of a CAP aircraft April 21, 2018 during the Wings Over Columbus Air and Space show. CAP senior members fly all locally owned low level routes every year, looking for uncharted towers and airfields. During the 2018 survey season they found 15 uncharted towers sure the area is safe for the 14th Flying Training Wing’s faster aircraft during their low-level sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb.)

Civil Air Patrol Maj. Trey Breckenridge and CAP Capt. Tibor Pechan, CAP pilots, stand in front of a CAP aircraft April 21, 2018 during the Wings Over Columbus Air and Space show. CAP senior members fly all locally owned low level military training routes every year, looking for uncharted towers and airfields. During the 2018 survey season they found 15 uncharted towers sure the area is safe for the 14th Flying Training Wing’s faster aircraft during their low-level sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb.)

Civil Air Patrol vital piece of American airpower for 76 years

Civil Air Patrol aircraft sit at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus, Mississippi, July 9, 2016. CAP can provide critical assistance during national disasters, most recently being the hurricanes that impacted Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. They can help by providing airborne photography to agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency, who will use the imagery to evaluate areas that are not accessible by road. (Civil Air Patrol photo by Maj. Zach Rowland)

Civil Air Patrol vital piece of American airpower for 76 years

Seventy-six years ago, the Civil Air Patrol found its way into existence, playing a crucial role in helping protect the United States homeland during World War II; today as the Air Force’s official auxiliary force, they continue that role along with several others. The Mississippi Wing’s Golden Triangle Composite Squadron supports Mississippi and Columbus Air Force Base using Cessna 172s and 182s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Gross)

Civil Air Patrol cadets prepare for their simulated T-6A Texan II flights July 25, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The cadets are familiarized to the instruments, emergency procedures and more throughout the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Civil Air Patrol cadets prepare for their simulated T-6A Texan II flights July 25, 2017, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The cadets are familiarized to the instruments, emergency procedures and more throughout the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb)

Lt. Col. Philip Poeppelman, 14th Flying Training Wing Inspector General complaints resolution director, stands on a flightline with two Air Force ROTC students after conducting Cadet Orientation Rides January 3, 2018. (Curtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Philip Poeppelman, 14th Flying Training Wing Inspector General complaints resolution director, stands on a flightline with two Air Force ROTC students after conducting Cadet Orientation Rides January 3, 2018. (Curtesy photo)

COUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the Air Force, will celebrate its 77th birthday Dec. 1 and the organization has played a major role in the Air Force’s total force mission and has also paved the way for many aviators.

Their mission is, “Supporting America's communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development and promotion of air, space and cyber power.” Some members of the 14th Flying Training Wing have their flying grassroots in CAP and some members still have an invested part in the Mississippi Wing’s Golden Triangle Composite Squadron, as it continues to be an essential asset to the community and the wing,

“I was active in the CAP for two years in college as a senior member,” said Maj. Ben Peacock, 14th Flying Training Wing executive officer and T-1A Jayhawk instructor pilot.

As a cadet, Peacock said he was able to be a part of the social search and rescue team as a ground team member, and was also a scanner in Cessna aircraft.

“It was a lot of great experiences in small airplanes,” Peacock said. “I got to fly occasionally as well, which was neat. … It made me feel like I was able to do something productive outside of college. It also opens up doors for cadets who want to be in the military and gives leadership opportunities at each level.”

Peacock said his experiences in the CAP helped him decide he wanted to join the Air Force and exposed him to his passion for aviation.

Local youth have that same opportunity, as the Golden Triangle Composite Squadron’s Internal Aerospace Education Program meets every Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Chapel Annex. The squadron currently has about 20 cadets and 15 senior members.

The cadets learn and build on aerospace education, leadership training, emergency services and physical training, which are the CAP’s core competencies.

Andrew Yingst, GTC Squadron Deputy Commander for Cadets, said this is a great opportunity for youth to develop leadership traits. He said he was a CAP cadet in high school and it was a springboard for him attending the U.S. Air Force Academy and serve for over 20 years, retiring as a major at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

“The leadership program is great, we’ll take a shy young kid who doesn’t know much about leading and we’ll teach them how to lead themselves and progressively give those opportunities to lead more and more,” Yingst said. “It’s incredible to see those young kids grow like that.”

Yingst also said the Air Force credits CAP for its success with military aviators and leaders.

“The Air Force has always said historically that Air Force leaders are different from other military leaders because we understand aerospace,” Yingst said, “It’s our core capability, and so the CAP provides that to kids from a young age and builds the appreciation for airpower.”

The CAP cadets build themselves through participating in summer activities, meetings, training programs, visits to military installations and even get to sit in flights on Air Force and CAP aircrafts.

“After they are authorized to wear a CAP cadet uniform they get to fly in some things like a C-130 Hercules, a helicopter, a Cessna 172 or 182, a glider and two of our cadets are currently in pilot lessons,” Yingst said. “We’ve had cadets work a flight line at an airshow to marshal aircraft and things like that are unique to the CAP.”

The GTC Squadron also works closely with the 14th FTW from an operational standpoint as well.

“Our senior members fly all locally owned low level military training routes every year, looking for uncharted towers and airfields. During the 2018 survey season we found 15 uncharted towers sure the area is safe for our faster aircraft during their low-level sorties,” Yingst said. “We conducted aerial photo missions for the May 2018 and Apr. 2008 T-38 Talon Crashes. We also conducted aerial search and rescue mission as well as ground team searches for the Nov. 2007 T-6 Texan II midair collision near Shuqulak.”

Everything from their meetings held on base to their support during emergencies is what proves the CAP’s ability as the official auxiliary to the best Air Force in the world.

If anyone is interested in joining the Civil Air Patrol or is looking for more information send an email to ms057-cc@mswg.cap.gov.