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Celebrating 80 years of CAP

Guest Editorial

By Bill Mason
Posted 12/3/21

As we celebrated the 80th birthday of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) this past Wednesday, I am reflecting on what we do for the community.

CAP was founded as a civil defense organization on December 1st, …

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Celebrating 80 years of CAP

Guest Editorial


As we celebrated the 80th birthday of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) this past Wednesday, I am reflecting on what we do for the community.

CAP was founded as a civil defense organization on December 1st, 1941. Many will recognize that the country was drawn into World War II a week later by the attack on Pearl Harbor. CAP was quickly pressed into service in a coastal defense role, looking for foreign ships poised to attack.

After the war, CAP renounced any further civil defense involvement and transitioned to a nonmilitary mission. Currently, our three primary missions are Cadet Programs, Aerospace Education and Emergency Services. Our Emergency Services mission includes coordinated air and ground search and rescue which is a close cousin to civil defense and a link to our past.

Civil Air Patrol’s Sullivan County Cadet Squadron is CAP’s liaison to the local community. As a Cadet Squadron, we focus on Cadet Programs catering to our youth members. Our meetings are grounded in activities that help cadets grow into responsible adults. They are expected to properly wear the CAP uniform which teaches them attention to detail.

They learn teamwork through marching. We do leadership activities to build esprit de corps.

Each of these qualities is juxtaposed against things like self-reliance, and followership because balance is part of what makes people successful. Giving our cadets opportunities like this is a large part of the Cast Programs mission.

Our unit is also very active in CAP’s Aerospace Education (AE) mission. We love things that fly, and we like to share that love with others. Much of our AE program is directed towards cadets so we try to do things instead of just learning about them. Our cadets recently built and launched model rockets as part of our rocketry program. We did a series on astronomy that culminated in a night viewing of the stars with the Catskills Astronomy Club. We are going to continue that series this winter by visiting local observatories and planetariums.

We have taken field trips to places like the USS Intrepid in New York City, which, coincidentally shares CAP's December 1st, 1941 birthday. CAP also owns several flight simulators that are available for cadets to use for aircraft familiarization. CAP’s airplanes can be used by cadets to learn to fly. There are scholarships available but even without a scholarship, the planes can be rented at cost.

Our unit is active in CAP’s Emergency Services mission as well. We have several members qualified in ground search and rescue and mission base support roles and there are opportunities for members to be part of CAP’s air search missions. Pilots fly the plane but adult members with no experience in an airplane can train as mission scanners and also assist the pilot with navigation and communication.

CAP has grown in our 80-year history to a professional organization that is an asset to our local community. Our volunteers have an opportunity to help their neighbors in many capacities and we are all looking forward to another successful 80 years of volunteer service.

Captain Bill Mason is the Commander of Sullivan County Cadet Squadron Civil Air Patrol. To learn more about CAP, check out the interview we did with Mason on the Sullivan County Democrat Podcast. Our podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Overcast and TuneIn. You can also visit the local squadron's website at http://sccsnycap.weebly.com/.


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