Civil Air Patrol


Spirit Cadets Develop Their Team-Building Skills

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP

Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron


 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 29, 2017, the cadets and senior members of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participated in a ninja-style obstacle course at the Ninja Force Gym in Albuquerque, owned and operated by ninja warrior competitor Josh Kronberg.

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. John Nichols, the squadron’s Basic Cadet Training instructor, organized the entire evening – known as Cadet Day – to help the squadron members challenge themselves and strengthen their team spirit.

Throughout the evening, the cadets consistently challenged themselves to step outside their comfort zones and to work together as a team. They slid down a two-inch diameter knotted rope from 20 feet above. They swung between loops, trying to remain in the air. By the end of the evening, the cadets were worn out, but their blistered hands were trophies of the memories that conquering the obstacle course provided.


The evening ended with a farewell party for Maj. Amanda Somerville, the squadron’s deputy commander for cadets, who is leaving the squadron to pursue other interests. Somerville, a vegan, was presented with a vegan chocolate cake in honor of her two years of service to the squadron.      The evening also marked Nichols’ 15th birthday, and he was presented with a separate cake in his honor. Since the cadets had been working out for two hours, both cakes were consumed in fairly short order.


The squadron decided that Nichols’ Cadet Day was an exciting and well-deserved opportunity for team-building, and fun for the entire squadron.


2017 Spirit Squadron Ninja Night 2

Above: The cadets and senior members of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron participate in their Cadet Day at Ninja Force Gym, under the tutelage of owner and operator Josh Kronberg (front row, center, kneeling). (Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Walter Barela)


Two Los Alamos Cadets Receive the Mitchell Award

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP

Los Alamos Composite Squadron

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – For the third time this n year, Los Alamos Composite Squadron recognized the achievement of cadets earning Civil Air Patrol’s Gen. Billy Mitchell Award. On June 5, 2017, Cadets Zachary Lang and Gabe Fox were promoted to the grade of cadet second lieutenant and presented with the award, named after aerospace pioneer Gen. Billy Mitchell.

Cadet Lang set his sights on earning the Mitchell Award shortly after his brother earned the award not too long ago. He is planning on joining the United States Navy.

Cadet Fox said, “It’s been a long road and a long, hard challenge, but it pays off in the end.” Fox joined the cadet program in October 2013, while still in the sixth grade. Fox hopes to join the United States Air Force, and then go on to college

It was a bittersweet meeting for Fox, since it was his last meeting at Los Alamos Composite Squadron. His family is moving to Rio Rancho, N.M., and he is transferring his membership to Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

The Mitchell Award signifies completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase Cadet Program. To earn the award, cadets must successfully complete the first eight of 16 achievements in the Cadet Program, as well as pass comprehensive leadership and aerospace exams, and a rigorous physical fitness test.

Cadets who earn the Mitchell Award become eligible for advanced placement upon graduation from basic training and consideration for entry into the Unites States service academies, as well as CAP flight and academic scholarships and grants.

 2017 Los Alamos Squadron Fox Lang Mitchell

Above: Cadets Zachary Lang, left, and Gabe Fox, right, prepare to receive their Mitchell Awards from New Mexico Wing Vice Commander-North Lt. Col. Annette Peters, assisted by Maj. Mark Peters. (All Photos: Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP}


Spirit Squadron Middle School Cyber Team Recognized

By Capt. Mary A. Fox, CAP

Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – On May 20, 2017, members of the Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron CyberPatriot Middle School team was recognized as the first-place middle school team by the Air Force Association Chapter 258, at an awards ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel in Albuquerque.

New Mexico Air National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Andrew E. Salas congratulated all the cadets personally and thanked them for their involvement and their efforts to keep CyberPatriot through the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses. He also presented the winning cyber teams with a challenge to continue their defense of cyber terrorism, not only through training, but also by remembering the lives of all American soldiers who gave them the freedom to pursue their training.


“The ceremony was inspirational as well as informative,” said Cadet Sponsor Member Jonathan Fox, in attendance with squadron commander Capt. Mary A. Fox. “It was great to hear Gen. Salas speak. He is certainly a motivational speaker. It is also interesting to hear that in only nine years, the AFA CyberPatriot program has grown to 60 teams in New Mexico, and 4,400 teams nationally. Those are quite impressive numbers for such a critical need in our country.”

Team member Cadet Airman Sean Cuellar-Hatcher received the award on behalf of the team, as well as a challenge coin from the Air Force Association representative in attendance at the ceremony.

The middle school team consisted of team directors 2nd Lts. Tom and Carissa Nichols; mentor James Hatcher; Cadet Senior Master Sgt. John Nichols, Cadet Airman Basic Maxwell Wignall Cadet Airman Sean Cuellar-Hatcher, and Naval Sea Cadet Jasmine Nichols.

2017 Spirit Squadron CyberPatriot Middle School Award

Above: New Mexico Air National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen Andrew E. Salas, Cadet Airman Sean Cueller-Hatcher, Mr. James Hatcher, and Air Force Association representatives Mr. James Toohey and Mr. Fred Harsany, who presented Cadet Hatcher with the CyberPatriot Middle School plaque on behalf of the squadron.(Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Jonathan Fox.)



Santa Fe Cadets Learn the Basics of Ground Team Operations

By Cadet Capt. Dakota Cisneros, CAP

Santa Fe Composite Squadron 

SANTA FE, N.M. – A recent field training exercise not only provided a valuable learning experience for the cadets of Santa Fe Composite Squadron. The exercise was held at Santa Fe Municipal airport on June 20, 2017.

During the exercise, cadets located and evacuated a simulated victim of an aircraft accident, learning the basics of ground search team movements, whistle commands, proper field protection, the importance of the wingman system, and how to conduct an improvised litter carry to transport a conscious injured person.

Cadet Public Affairs Officer Dakota Cisneros prepared a detailed Operational Risk Management Analysis, and a geo-referenced map as part of the exercise. Handheld radios were used to communicate with a simulated command base.

Squadron public affairs officer Capt. John Graham remarked, “The squadron hadn’t been involved in ground exercises in many years. With his exemplary leadership skills, Cadet Cisneros made it possible for the cadets to learn these new skills.”

Squadron officers participating in the exercise assisted with instruction, acted as incident commander and answered questions about real-life scenarios. A number of cadets expressed interest in further emergency services training to gain experience in the field and to pursue personal goals for their future careers.

(Editor’s Note: The squadron’s cadet public affairs officer, Cadet Capt. Dakota Cisneros, completed one of the requirements for his promotion to cadet major by planning and leading a ground search and rescue mission for the cadets. As preparation for the exercise, Cadet Cisneros prepared a detailed Operational Risk Management analysis, and a geo-referenced map to navigate to a simulated crash site at the airport. )


2017 Santa Fe Squadron Cadet SAREX

Above: Cadets from Santa Fe Composite Squadron participate in a simulated litter carry of an aircraft crash victim during a squadron search and rescue exercise. (Photo: Capt. C. John Graham, CAP)


National Commander-select Col. Mark E. Smith

Has Ties to New Mexico Wing    

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

New Mexico Wing Public Affairs Officer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On June 19, 2017, Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors announced that Southwest Region Commander Col. Mark E. Smith has been selected as CAP’s next CEO and National Commander. Smith will assume command at the organization’s National Conference, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, in San Antonio, Texas.

Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Smith will serve a three-year term as National Commander, assuming command from Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the current national commander, whose term expires this year.

Smith’s appointment as the new leader of CAP’s 57,000 members nationwide is especially significant for members of New Mexico Wing, many of whom believe that he is eminently qualified to lead Civil Air Patrol at the national level.

He was a founding member of Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, and commanded the squadron from January 2006 to March 2008. In June 2011, he assumed command of New Mexico Wing.

His vision statement for the Wing was, “New Mexico Wing – Best in the Southwest.” His vision carried over to Southwest Region, when he assumed command of the Region in June 2015.

Under his watch, New Mexico Wing’s Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron achieved Squadron of Distinction for 2013, ranking as the best squadron in the nation among 1,500 units nationwide.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee, who succeeded Smith as wing commander, said of Smith’s appointment, “I have had the

privilege of working with Mark Smith since 2011. His integrity, excellence and work ethic have inspired me to be a better servant to my community.” Lee added, “I know that his leadership will lead the way to enhance the capabilities of CAP into the future.”


A 1974 graduate of the United State Air Force Academy, Smith has spent more than 43 years in service to his community, state and nation. He currently heads up CAP’s Leadership Development Working Group, a national-level team that has developed products, tools and courses to better equip CAP’s leaders at all levels for success. The group recently released a highly acclaimed Unit Commander’s Course.


Outgoing National Commander Vazquez said of his successor, “Col. Smith represents the best of the executive volunteer leaders in Civil Air Patrol today.” He added, “His leadership of Southwest Region, as well as work on a new generation of squadron and wing commander training, greatly benefits all CAP members. He is a great choice to succeed me, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a smooth transition.”


When Smith found out he was selected, he said, “I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as Civil Air Patrol’s next CEO and National Commander. I look forward to partnering with our phenomenal volunteers and staff to take our organization to even greater levels of excellence in service to community, state and nation.”


Col Smith Official Portrait

Above: Col. (now Maj. Gen.-select) Mark E. Smith, the next National Commander of Civil Air Patrol (Photo: CAP National Headquarters)


New Mexico Wing Places 16th Nationwide

In CyberPatriot Competition

By 2nd Lt. Michael R. Saul, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On February 18, 2017, New Mexico Wing placed 16th nationwide as part of the ninth annual National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, popularly known as CyberPatriot, sponsored by the Air Force Association.


The ranking places New Mexico Wing in the top three percent of all units that participated as members of Civil Air Patrol. The team’s 16th place ranking is an overall improvement over last year, when the team placed 19th, among the top four percent of all competing units.


CyberPatriot coach 1st Lt. Cael Chappell said to the team of its performance, “You have continually improved every year, and that is an impressive feat.”

Additionally, the CyberPatriot team, fielded by Albuquerque Heights “Spirit” Composite Squadron, placed in the following categories:


Number One CAP Team in New Mexico.


Number Two All Service Team in New Mexico.



Number 65 nationwide in the All Service Division, finishing in the top 4% of all units. (Last year, the team finished at Number 73, placing it in the top 5% of all units.)


This was also the first year that the squadron fielded a middle school team, which earned second place at CyberPatriot’s Thundercup Competition on April 27, which was held at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. The middle school team then advanced to the state finals, and took first place at the state completion, where they were honored at a separate banquet on May 20. They did not advance to the national level.


Established by the Air Force Association in 2009, CyberPatriot is designed for high school and middle school students to detect vulnerabilities in their online networks, and to protect them against cyber-attacks. Cadets are cast in the role of IT (information technology) specialists assigned to a company, and tasked with hardening their computers against cyber-attacks while maintaining critical services for their company.


New Mexico Wing has fielded a CyberPatriot team every year since 2013, and has increased its rankings year after year.


2017 CyberPatriot Team

Above (Clockwise from left): Cadet 2nd Lts. Kyle Stafford, Davis Little and Marshall Banks; Cadet Chief Master Sgts. Jacob Hensley and Mark Chappell, and Cadet Airman 1st Class Olivia Spafford, who made up the 2017 CyberPatriot high school team. (Photo: 1st Lt. Cael Chappell, CAP)


FAA Honors Socorro CAP Pilot

By Lt. Col. David G. Finley

SOCORRO, N.M. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) presented Civil Air Patrol Capt. David Pepitone with its most prestigious award – the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award – at a special meeting of the Socorro Composite Squadron on March 2, 2017. The award recognizes “individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as Master Pilots.”

FAA’s FAASTeam Program Manager Rich Hammer, and Front Line Manager Tamara Bell, from the Albuquerque Flight Standards District Office, came to Socorro to present the award, which included a certificate and a plaque. The ceremony included a video about the Wright Brothers Award and a history of the award, and a presentation by Pepitone about his career and aviation experiences.

Pepitone soloed in 1966 in a Cessna 150, gained flying experience while serving in the U.S. Air Force, and then earned his private pilot certificate in 1972. He went on to earn commercial and airline transport certificates, along with certification as a flight instructor.

After flying for Frontier Airlines, Pepitone joined Ford Aerospace, working at the jet propulsion lab as a human factors engineer. He then moved to the NASA Ames Research Center, managing a team of scientists and engineers designing and marketing advanced cockpit designs and systems.

At Boeing, he worked as a human factors engineer and as a flight deck engineer, designing and testing cockpits for aircraft such as the Boeing 777, 737NG, and 747-800. He then became an instructor pilot, training pilots for airlines that were the launch customers for the Boeing 737-700.

Pepitone joined Honeywell Aerospace in 1997, and worked there until his retirement in 2015. While at Honeywell, he graduated from the National Test Pilot School. His final positon with Honeywell was as a senior program manager for projects designing advanced cockpit displays.

He has received numerous honors and certifications, including election as a fellow to the International Royal Aeronautical Society, the highest honor conferred upon anyone by the British Royal Academy.

Pepitone has flown a huge variety of aircraft, such as the Boeing 777 and 747, as well as legendary warbirds such as the Messerschmitt 262 – the world’s first operational jet aircraft – and the Korean War-era MiG-15.

Pepitone joined CAP in 2014 in Arizona, and transferred to the Socorro Composite Squadron early in 2016. He serves as the squadron’s character development instructor and assistant aerospace education officer. Since joining CAP, he has become an instructor pilot and check pilot on gliders, an orientation pilot, and a transport mission pilot. He is a common sight wherever CAP gliders and cadets are gathered, and enjoys teaching the basics of aeronautics and piloting to New Mexico Wing cadets

“We congratulate Capt. Pepitone on receiving this honor from the FAA,” said Maj. Dennis Hunter, commander of the Socorro Composite Squadron. “We feel very fortunate to have him as a member of our squadron and our wing.”

“He is extremely enthusiastic about using his experience and guidance to inspire our cadets to become involved in aviation,” Hunter added, “and if they wish to pursue aviation careers. He is a great resource for our aviation and aerospace education programs.”

2017 Socorro Pilot Honored

Above (L-R): Capt. David Pepitone receives the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from FAA Front Line Manager Tamara Bell. (Photo: Lt. Col. Dave Finley, CAP)


Los Alamos Cadet Receives Mitchell Award

By Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On March 6, 2017, Civil Air Patrol cadet Jack W. Stafford achieved a milestone when he received the General Billy Mitchell award and was promoted to cadet second lieutenant. His promotion signifies completion of Phase II of CAP’s four-phase cadet program, which entitles him to advanced placement in Air Force basic training, makes him eligible for academic and flight scholarships and grants, and may even help him with officer training, should he decide to enroll in ROTC or apply to one of the service academies.

Typically, only 15% of cadets reach this achievement. Stafford, age 16, joined CAP four years ago and wants to pursue a career as a bush pilot and Airframe and Power plant mechanic. According to Stafford, “It’s definitely taken a lot of work and I’m very excited to have the honor of wearing this new rank insignia.”

His goal is to achieve the Amelia Earhart Award before he goes to college. (The Earhart Award signifies completion of Phase III of the Cadet Program, carries with it promotion to cadet captain, and entitles him to participate in the International Air Cadet Exchange.)

Stafford was inspired by other cadets in the squadron who have achieved the Mitchell award. Since 2010, Los Alamos Composite Squadron has boasted six cadet recipients of the Billy Mitchell Award.

Also promoted at the ceremony was Cadet Bryce Gentile, who became a cadet master sergeant. Recognized as well were Cadet Chief Master Sergeants Gabe Fox, Juan Romero and Zach Lang, who are well on their way to taking the Mitchell milestone exam.

Above (L-R): Los Alamos Composite Squadron emergency services officer Maj. Mark Peters presents the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award to Cadet 2nd Lt. Jack W. Stafford. (Photo: Maj. Dan Gabel, CAP)


New Mexico Wing Recognizes Cadet Achievements for Cadet Program’s 75th Anniversary

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Wing is doing its part to help observe the 75thAnniversary of Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program. The celebration was officially launched on March 3, 2017, by CAP’s National Commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Vazquez, at the organization’s Command Council meeting in Arlington, Va.

The year-long celebration comes only a year after CAP commemorated the 75thanniversary of its founding on Dec. 1, 1941. The Cadet Program was established nearly a year later, on Oct.1, 1942.

The memo authorizing the Cadet Program declared that any existing squadron could form a counterpart cadet unit for high school juniors and seniors, ages 15-18. Male members could sponsor one male cadet, and female members could sponsor one female cadet. The cadets had to be citizens of the United States for at least 10 years, as well as their parents. And they had to be in sufficient physical condition for military service.

“It was initially established to prepare teenagers for military service,” Vazquez said, and so the training focused on preflight skills, military law, drill and ceremonies, Morse code and signals.

In spite of the strict membership requirements – which were deliberately kept that way until a solid membership base could be established – Civil Air Patrol recruited over 200,000 cadets in the first six months of the Cadet Program. The initial recruiting cost was $200, which included printing and distributing brochures.

Over the years, the Cadet Program has undergone many changes. The program, as it now exists, was created in 1964 by Mr. Jack V. Sorenson, who is considered the father of the modern Cadet Program. Originally consisting of three milestone awards – Mitchell, Earhart and Spaatz – the program was revamped in 2003, with the elevation of the Wright Brothers Award (which had previously signified completion of Achievement 3 of the Cadet Program) to milestone award status; the creation of the Feik Achievement to signify completion of Achievement 3; the addition of the grades of cadet senior master sergeant and cadet chief master sergeant; and the addition of the Ira C. Eaker Award to signify completion of Phase IV of Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Program.

While many are familiar with the national accomplishments of former CAP cadets, such as astronaut Eric Boe, New Mexico Wing wants to focus on the accomplishments of its local cadets.

“We want to show New Mexico Wing the contributions made by its former cadets,” said New Mexico Wing Director of Cadet Programs 1st Lt. Steven A. Lindquist. To date, New Mexico Wing has boasted 24 recipients of the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award – the highest award a cadet can earn – with many Spaatz recipients holding key positions within the Wing. Recipients include Lt. Col. Andrew F. Selph, Assistant Director of Cadet Programs, and Group 800 Administrative Officer Maj. Gwen Sawyer.

 “We also know of at least five cadets who have been appointed to service academies in the past five years,” said Lindquist. “We hope that units within the Wing will provide us with additional information. We want to spotlight the contributions of cadets over the coming year.”

2017 Cadet Program 75th Anniversary Logo


 Integrity Makes its Maiden Flight

By Lt. Col. Jay T. Tourtel, CAP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Jan. 8, 2017, New Mexico Wing’s hot-air balloon program entered a new era when its new balloon envelope, Integrity, made its maiden flight from the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.


Integrity is the second balloon acquired by the Wing, since the Wing launched its new balloon program in July 2014. Integrity’s predecessor, Phoenix – which was donated to New Mexico Wing by a fellow balloonist – was retired in June 2016, when it failed its annual inspection.

The launch began at 7:15 a.m., with a weather and safety briefing by the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA). Balloon pilot Capt. Jessica Makin, of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron, directed the inflation of Integrity, which took about half an hour.

The balloon crew laid out tarps on the field to protect the envelope from grass, debris and bird droppings. Using a gasoline-powered fan, Makin began the inflation, and like a newborn coming into the world, Integrity slowly took shape.

As soon as the envelope was fully inflated, Makin gave the signal that she was “going hot” – that is, using the propane burner to heat and lift the envelope above the ground – and then, like its predecessor, Integrity rose like a phoenix to begin a new phase of the Wing’s hot-air balloon program.

New Mexico Wing Commander Col. Mike Lee was the balloon’s inaugural passenger,accompanied by Makin (who served as check pilot on this voyage), and balloon pilot Lt. Col. William Fitzpatrick, commander of LBJ Middle School Cadet Squadron.

“The prime purpose of Integrity and the balloon program is the development of aviators and air-minded individuals and the continued growth of general aviation in our communities,” said Fitzpatrick.

Makin added that the balloon program has produced five private pilots since it was started two and a half years ago.

The balloon lifted off and remained aloft for approximately one hour, landing at the old Coronado Airport, approximately two miles east of its launch point. After the chase crew had repacked the envelope, the passengers, pilots and crew headed back to the Balloon Fiesta Park.

“Flying in Integrity was a milestone for me,” said Lee. “After all the hard work so many good people accomplished, everything came to fruition.”

Lee concluded, “With this beautiful new envelope, we will be able to carry the CAP name and logo far and wide for many to see.”



Above: New Mexico Wing’s new hot-air balloon Integrity prepares for takeoff. (Photo: Maj. John English, CAP)


NM Wing Change of Command Caps Exciting Aerospace Extravaganza

By Maj Dave Finley

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — In an impressive change-of-command ceremony attended by CAP National Commander Maj Gen Amy Courter, Col Richard Himebrook handed over the reins of the New Mexico Wing to Col Mark Smith on 25 June. The ceremony, held at Albuquerque’s Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, concluded a two-day Aerospace Extravaganza featuring an exciting lineup of aviation and space-related activities.

A member of CAP since 2005, Col Smith is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who retired as a Colonel. A pilot with more than 3,500 hours in F-4D, AT-38B, and F-15C aircraft, Smith served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He commanded a fighter squadron and directed the Air Force’s award-winning Joint Advanced Distributed Simulation Joint Test and Evaluation Program. He currently works as an independent consultant to industry. In CAP, he has served as a squadron commander, director of the Southwest Region Staff College, and as NM Wing Vice Commander.

“On behalf of the entire New Mexico Wing, I want to thank Col Himebrook for his truly outstanding performance as wing commander, and congratulate him on a job well done. We wish him and his wife Roberta the very best for this next chapter of their lives. I’m happy that he has agreed to serve as Advisor to the Commander and continue to give us the benefit of his vast pool of knowledge,” Smith said.

Southwest Region (SWR) Vice Commander Col John Varljen presided over the change-of-command ceremony, also attended by incoming SWR commander Col Frank Buethe and New Mexico National Guard Deputy Adjutant General Brig Gen Paul Pena.

Among the numerous tributes and gifts to the outgoing wing commander was a framed, minature American flag and NASA patch that flew to the Moon aboard Apollo 15.

The ceremony capped two days of exciting aerospace-education activities that drew participants from around the state. These activities included workshops for cadets and senior members, an in-depth tour of the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array radio telescope, an extensive flight-line tour at Kirtland AFB, and tethered hot-air balloon rides at the balloon museum.

The featured speakers at the Aerospace Extravaganza were famed aviation pioneer and CAP Col Mary Feik, after whom a cadet achievement award is named, aerospace engineer Robert Sandusky, chief engineer on the YF-23, and Colonel Edward J. Masterson, Chief of the Spacecraft Technology Division, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB.

The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. The wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.

New Mexico Civil Air Patrol Earns “Excellent” Rating

By Maj Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earned an “Excellent” rating from U.S. Air Force evaluators during an intensive evaluation of the Wing’s emergency-services operations on Saturday, 30 April 2011. The evaluation involved CAP members throughout the state who demonstrated their abilities in search-and-rescue, disaster-relief, and homeland-security operations.

“I’m extremely proud of our team’s performance. This wing is made up of great people and it shows,” said Colonel Richard Himebrook, the NM Wing Commander.

During the evaluation, New Mexico crews flew CAP aircraft under the control of a command post at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The aircrews and ground personnel practiced a variety of missions similar to those CAP regularly is called upon to perform.

Ten aircraft and 70 CAP members participated in the exercise. Members from CAP units in Albuquerque, Alamogordo, Clovis, Farmington, Las Cruces, Los Alamos, Roswell, Santa Fe, Socorro, and Taos were involved.

Scenarios in the exercise included an overdue aircraft, wildfire reconnaisance, transport of blood plasma, and a number of aerial photography assignments. The primary focus for much of the day was on searching for a simulated overdue private aircraft carrying a state legislator that failed to arrive at its destination on a flight from Farmington to Alamogordo.

“That is a long route that covers a lot of territory, and makes for a challenging search,” said CAP Major Scott Zenonian, the Incident Commander for the exercise.

Other missions involved transporting simulated blood plasma from Roswell to Ruidoso, reconnaisance of active and recent wildfire sites, and reconnaisance of facilities considered potential targets for terrorist attacks.

The Air Force evaluation team set up the scenarios to test the New Mexico Wing’s capabilities to operate, manage, and prioritize the efforts of its equipment and personnel. The exercise focused on maximizing teamwork, interfacing with other organizatons, and using standardized procedures.

“In a sense, this was a stress test for our emergency-services team, with the Air Force throwing simulated difficulties at us to see our responses,” Zenonian said.

The simulated difficulties included injury to a pilot before a flight, making him unable to fly as planned, and an emergency evacuation of the mission base, forcing the incident commander and his staff to operate from an alternate location. In one CAP aircraft, an Air Force passenger ordered a simulation of the pilot becoming incapacitated, and a non-pilot crew member had to take over flying the plane, which he did right up to the final moments before landing.

“What makes me especially proud is how every participant, both senior member and cadet, worked well together as a team. This was the main ingredient in the wing performing so well,” Himebrook said.

Test messages and directives from the Air Force evaluation team began setting up the scenarios earlier in the week. In response to one of those directives, CAP members operated a radio network demonstrating statewide communications capability on Thursday.

The New Mexico Wing of the CAP has more than 900 members in squadrons throughout the state. In addition to 13 aircraft, the wing has numerous vehicles and an extensive, self-contained radio communications network. The New Mexico Wing was established in 1941 and its members have been serving in volunteer missions since World War II.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 60,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and was credited by the AFRCC with saving more than 100 lives last fiscal year. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 69 years. For more information on CAP, visit




CAP Aircrew deplane on flight line at Las Cruces. Navy T-34C trainers in background. (Photo by Capt Dave Finley)

Las Cruces Hosts Successful Multi-Agency Exercise

B y Capt Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing teamed with other agencies for a combined air-ground search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise based at the Las Cruces airport on Saturday, 5 March. The all-day exercise included multiple scenarios and provided extensive experience in multi-agency coordination and communication.

CAP members from Las Cruces, Roswell, Alamogordo, and Socorro joined with the Organ Mountain Technical Rescue Team, Dona Ana County SAR, and Mesilla Valley SAR teams, Las Cruces Fire Department, Radium Springs Volunteer Fire Department, and the New Mexico State Police to practice emergency services missions. Five scenarios were conducted simultaneously, with searches for an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), a lost hiker, an injured climber, aerial survey of possible flooding, and aerial survey/photographs of a possible wildland fire.

Three CAP aircraft flew sorties and five ground teams took to the field. The ground teams included two technical-rescue teams and one team mounted on ATVs. More than 60 personnel from all agencies participated in the exercise. The exercise was directed from an Incident Command Post at the headquarters of the Las Cruces Composite Squadron at the Las Cruces airport.

The Incident Command System was implemented using Unified Command with staffing from multiple agencies including CAP, Organ Mountain Technical Rescue, Mesilla Valley SAR, and the Las Cruces Fire Department. The command structure worked extremely well.

All the searches succeeded in accomplishing their objectives.

“This exercise proved to be an excellent opportunity to work with other agencies and practice communicating with them effectively and cooperating closely in making the missions a success,” said Lt Col Paul Cline, the Incident Commander.



CAP Shines at the Legislature

CAP cadets present colors in the chamber of the New Mexico House of Representatives, 25 February 2011. Cadets and senior members visited the Legislature, met with lawmakers, and watched proceedings. The day was officially proclaimed “Civil Air Patrol Cadet Day” by Gov. Susanna Martinez, recognizing the benefits and contributions of the CAP cadet program. (Photo by Philip Fischer.)



ELT was transmitting aboard shrink-wrapped aircraft being transported by truck.(Photo by Lt Col Paul Cline)

Errant ELT in a Shrink-Wrapped Airplane

By Capt Dave Finley

When a satellite report indicated an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was activated south of Santa Fe on 31 January, New Mexico Wing personnel responded as they have done many times before.  A ground team went to the reported location expecting to find an aircraft.  However, they found nothing.

Surprisingly, the next satellite report of the same ELT indicated it was near Anthony, in the far southern part of the state.  Clearly, the aircraft carrying this transmitter wasn’t crashed and wasn’t stationary!

As it turned out, the plane was moving, but not under its own power. “It was sitting, shrink-wrapped, on the trailer of an 18-wheeler,” explained Lt Col Paul Cline, the NM Wing’s Director of Communicatons, who found the aircraft.

Cline had received a call from Lt Col David MacLaughlin, the Wing’s Emergency Services Director, giving him the new location of the ELT.

“I immediately got a hunch, and called the Flying J Truck Stop in Anthony,” Cline recalled.  “I asked if there was a truck in their parking lot with an airplane on it.  The guy said yes.  I told him to not let the truck leave until I got there,” Cline said.

When Cline arrived at the truck stop, he confirmed the ELT was in the shrink-wrapped airplane, then went inside and turned it off.  The plane, an Orion experimental model from V-Raptor, LLC, was enroute to the manufacturer’s facility in Sebastian, Florida.

“The truck driver said he’d been hauling planes for 20 years and never had that happen before,” Cline said.

Mission complete.



Navajo Code Talker Wilfred Billey with NM Wing cadets at 2010 Wing Conference. (Photo by 1stLt Helen Green)

Wing Conference 2010: An Exciting, Successful Gathering

By Capt Dave Finley

New Mexico CAP members gathered for an information-packed and exciting Wing Conference 12-14 November in Farmington. The program included speakers from National Headquarters and the Southwest Region, and a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from a World War II Navajo Code Talker.

Efficiently hosted by the Farmington Composite Squadron, the conference opened with a Friday-night reception and pool party. The official proceedings got underway Saturday morning in a general session featuring informative updates on aviation and CAP. David Ploeger, Director of the New Mexico Aviation Division, outlined the State’s plans for airport improvements and took questions from members. Special guest John Salvador from National Headquarters, brought members up to date on nationwide developments in CAP.

NM Wing Commander Col Richard Himebrook outlined the state of the wing, citing statistics and accomplishments from the past year. He illustrated his presentation with photos from his visits to squadrons throughout the state. The CAP Southwest Region was represented by the Region Inspector General, Lt Col Sharon Lane, a familar face to NM CAP members.

For many, the highlight of the conference was a special “fireside chat” Saturday afternoon with Wilfred Billey, a New Mexico native and World War II Navajo Code Talker. Recruited out of high school in 1943 by the Marine Corps, Billey joined the unique group of Navajos who used their native language to provide secure communications to American forces in the Pacific war. Their code never was broken by the Japanese.

Billey told of his experiences in Marine Corps boot camp, the special training he and the other Navajos got in becoming combat radiomen, and of the realities of combat as Marines invaded island after island in the drive toward the Japanese homeland. A veteran of battles at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa, Billey returned home, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and spent 40 years as a teacher, counselor, and school principal.

After speaking and taking questions from seniors and cadets, Billey signed autographs and posed for photos with cadets, each of whom now has a personal connection to an honored and heroic part of American history.

On Saturday and Sunday, the conference included learning labs on a variety of topics, including finance, encampments, transportation, emergency services, operations, professional development, aerospace education, communications, and public affairs. A special session offered coaching on public speaking for cadets, and other sessions offered tips on web page design, Microsoft Excel, and the Becker direction finder.

The Saturday night banquet and awards ceremony was entertainingly emceed by Capt Anthony Torres and marked the social highlight of the event. The evening’s keynote speaker was NM State Representative Tom Taylor, the House Minority Leader and a pilot.

The Farmington Composite Squadron, led by Maj Scott Zenonian, did an outstanding job of organizing and conducting the conference. Their efforts paid off in an event that was enjoyable and rewarding for all attendees.

The 2011 NM Wing Conference will be held in Albuquerque.


NM SAR Exercise a Successful Training Experience

By Lt Col Jay T. Tourtel

SANTA FE—New Mexico Wing’s Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX), held on 23 October at Santa Fe Municipal Airport, was largely successful, according to Maj. John Gravel, CAP, incident commander.  Both aircrews and ground teams accomplished most of their objectives, with two scenarios being aborted due to inclement weather.

The incident command post was established at 6:00 a.m., and mission personnel reported in starting at 7:00 a.m.  At 8:00 a.m., Capt. Lloyd J. Voights, operations section chief, gave the initial briefing:     Two aircraft crashes, both simulated, one near Farmington and the other one near Tecolote, northwest of Las Vegas.  Ground teams in Farmington and from Albuquerque were dispatched to search for the Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) in the area.  By 10:00 a.m., flight crews had received their briefings and were dispatched to the search areas.
By 10:00 a.m., a lost hiker (also simulated) had been reported missing in the area southwest of Las Vegas and ground teams were dispatched to the area.  Search aircraft also performed photo reconnaissance of railroad tracks east of Belen, and power lines north of Clovis. A ground team in Farmington was also on station to search for an ELT in their area.  By 2:00 p.m., the winds had increased, causing the ELT searches to be aborted, but both downed aircraft were found.  Personnel began to demobilize by 5:00 p.m., and by 7:00 p.m., the mission was closed.
New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol worked in cooperation with the Tecolote Fire Department and San Miguel County Search and Rescue.  Both agencies were impressed with the professionalism of the ground team officers and cadets.  Cadets assisted in training the fire department and showing them how CAP can support their needs.
During the after-action debrief, key personnel agreed that the mission went well overall, and that mission personnel performed to the best of their abilities, gaining valuable experience in the process.    Additionally, outside agencies had a chance to watch CAP in action, and to think of New Mexico Wing the next time they need search and rescue help. “The SAREX is the meat of search and rescue,” said Lt. Col. David McLauchlan, project officer for the exercise.


CAP Gulf Effort Tops 10,000 Volunteer Hours, 1,000 Flight Hours

CAP is providing a huge level of support to the efforts to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The CAP effort now has surpassed 10,000 volunteer hours and 1,000 flight hours. Some are calling this CAP’s biggest mission since the antisubmarine patrols of World War II. This is an effort that all members can cite with pride. For full details, see the news on the CAP national web site.


Eagle Squadron Cadet is SW Region Cadet of Year

A Socorro cadet is making the transition from the New Mexico desert to the Connecticut seacoast as he joins the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Trey Thunborg of the Socorro Composite Squadron departed New Mexico 24 June with his family, headed for New London, CT, and a scheduled swearing-in ceremony 28 June.
Thunborg is one of 290 members of the academy’s incoming class, selected from more than 4,000 applicants. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is ranked among the nation’s most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The smallest of the nation’s five federal service academies, it provides a highly-structured environment for a unique higher-education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership, and professional military development. Graduates gain commissions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Thunborg has been an outstanding CAP cadet, joining the newly-formed Socorro squadron as a charter member in 2007. He was one of the first two Socorro cadets to be promoted to Cadet Airman in August of that year, and was the first of that squadron’s cadets to gain each new rank thereafter. He was the honor cadet at the New Mexico Wing’s summer encampment in 2008, and attended National Blue Beret in 2009.
“As a cadet, he took on a leadership role almost immediately,” said squadron commander Capt. Dave Finley. “He learned quickly and just as quickly turned around to teach our younger cadets and those who joined us later. He developed into an effective cadet leader, and was looked up to by all the other cadets,” Finley added.
Thunborg was a standout scholar and athlete at Socorro High School, and was recognized for his achievements at the school’s annual awards ceremony on 12 May, just prior to his graduation. At that ceremony, Thunborg was formally presented with his certificate of appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. With no Coast Guard representative available, Finley was tapped to make the presentation.
“It was a great honor to present Trey with his certificate in front of his fellow students and their families. It was gratifying to see him get a well-deserved standing ovation when he came forward to receive the certificate,” Finley said. “All of us in the Civil Air Patrol are very proud of his success and his dedication to serving our country. We wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavor.”

By Lt Col Paul J. Ballmer

Cadet Major Daniel E. Paulsen of the Eagle Cadet Squadron, New Mexico Wing, was presented with the Southwest Region Cadet of the Year Award by Colonel Joseph C. Jensen, Commander of the Southwest Region, during the New Mexico Wing Commander’s Call and Staff Meeting June 26.

swrcadetofyearCadet Paulsen has served the New Mexico Wing as the Cadet Commander for the 2008 Winter Encampment and the Commandant of Cadets for the 2009 Winter Encampment as well as being a squadron representative to the wing’s Cadet Advisory Council. In November 2009 he was given the New Mexico Wing Cadet of the Year Award. He was awarded the Commander’s Commendation Award for his service as the 2008 Winter Encampment’s Cadet Commander. In 2006, Paulsen was selected as the Honor Cadet of the 2006 New Mexico Wing Summer Encampment.

In the Eagle Cadet Squadron, Paulsen served as the Cadet Commander, Assistant Administration Officer, Assistant Moral Leadership Officer, Assistant Leadership Officer, Executive Officer, Flight Commander, First Sergeant, and Flight Sergeant. He was the Squadron’s Cadet of the Year in 2008, and the Enlisted Cadet of the Year in 2006.

Paulsen also has been active in many community activities , including serving on the summer staff of the Spring Canyon Officer Christian Fellowship Conference Center, and doing volunteer work for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) La Luz Academy on Kirtland AFB. He also assisted with maintenance and concessions for the Mile High Little League and is a member of the youth group in his church.

Outside of the Civil Air Patrol, Paulsen works as an Engineering Aide with the Junior Space Scholar Student Temporary Employment Program at the AFRL La Luz Academy, where he serves as a computer technician completing setup, configuration, and maintaining three classroom computer labs that support science, technology, engineering, and math-related activities for students from fifthgrade through high school.

Paulsen recently graduated from High School and will attend the Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, beginning in September.

Paulsen has only to complete a speech and an essay and serve the required time and he should earn Civil Air Patrol’s Ira Eaker Award and the rank of C/Lt Col in July.


NM Cadet Goes to Coast Guard Academy

A Socorro cadet is making the transition from the New Mexico desert to the Connecticut seacoast as he joins the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014. Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Trey Thunborg of the Socorro Composite Squadron was sworn in at the academy in New London, CT, on 28 June.

thunborgpresentThunborg is one of 290 members of the academy’s incoming class, selected from more than 4,000 applicants. The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876, is ranked among the nation’s most prestigious and selective institutions of higher learning. The smallest of the nation’s five federal service academies, it provides a highly-structured environment for a unique higher-education experience focusing on academics, athletics, leadership, and professional military development. Graduates gain commissions as officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thunborg has been an outstanding CAP cadet, joining the newly-formed Socorro squadron as a charter member in 2007. He was one of the first two Socorro cadets to be promoted to Cadet Airman in August of that year, and was the first of that squadron’s cadets to gain each new rank thereafter. He was the honor cadet at the New Mexico Wing’s summer encampment in 2008, and attended National Blue Beret in 2009.

“As a cadet, he took on a leadership role almost immediately,” said squadron commander Capt. Dave Finley. “He learned quickly and just as quickly turned around to teach our younger cadets and those who joined us later. He developed into an effective cadet leader, and was looked up to by all the other cadets,” Finley added.

Thunborg was a standout scholar and athlete at Socorro High School, and was recognized for his achievements at the school’s annual awards ceremony on 12 May, just prior to his graduation. At that ceremony, Thunborg was formally presented with his certificate of appointment to the Coast Guard Academy (Photo above). With no Coast Guard representative available, Finley was tapped to make the presentation.

“It was a great honor to present Trey with his certificate in front of his fellow students and their families. It was gratifying to see him get a well-deserved standing ovation when he came forward to receive the certificate,” Finley said. “All of us in the Civil Air Patrol are very proud of his success and his dedication to serving our country. We wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavor.”

NM Wing Conducts ICS-300 Course

ics300The New Mexico Wing conducted an ICS-300 course at Wing Headquarters 21-23 May. This FEMA course, Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents, is not offered online and must be taken in person. It is a requirement for numerous CAP Emergency Services specialties, as well as for leadership/management roles for personnel from agencies responding to incidents.

The course was led by CAP Lt. Col. Larry Nelson and featured outstanding instructors with a broad range of experience and expertise. Enrollment was not limited to CAP and attendees included members of police and fire services as well as search-and-rescue and Community Emergency Response Team organizations. This provided the dual benefit of allowing the CAP attendees to learn from those representing other agencies and for the CAP members to make those personnel more aware of the functions and capabilities of CAP within the emergency-services community.

This cross-training aspect was particularly effective during the many small-team, scenario-based exercises conducted throughout the course. CAP members found themselves answering numerous questions about CAP’s role and capabilities.

Reminder: Change to Non-“U.S.” Command Patchcap_command_patch_3d_web

A reminder that the transition period is over and there now is only one approved CAP Command Patch. That is the one announced in 2008 that does not include the “U.S.” Wear of the new command patch on uniforms became mandatory on 1 March 2010. Emblems with the “U.S.” on vehicles and aircraft will be phased out through attrition.

Wing Conducts Successful Unit Commanders Course


Current and potential unit commanders got the benefit of the experience and expertise of seasoned CAP officers at a Unit Commanders Course held at NM Wing Headquarters in January. The course, directed by Lt Col Mark Smith, received enthusiastic reviews from participants.




2009 New Mexico Wing Conference a Great Success

By Capt. Dave Finley

The 2009 New Mexico Wing Conference, held 13-15 November in Las Cruces, featured seminars, socializing, outstanding presentations, and top-flight entertainment by a talented and famous CAP member. Attendees heard from Wing Commander Col. Richard Himebrook, Southwest Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen, and Mr. Joe Curry from National Headquarters. Other featured speakers included Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Dr. William Gutman of Spaceport America, and Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.

Aviation legend Col. Mary Feik made a return visit to the NM Wing Conference, hosting a popular fireside chat with cadets, and the closing Awards Banquet was treated to a performance by Lt. Col. Paul Salas of the Texas Wing, with his famous reincarnation of Frank Sinatra.

The event began Friday evening with popular social events at the conference hotel, the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces. Senior members attended a reception hosted by Col. Himebrook, the Wing commander, while cadets enjoyed an indoor poolside party. These events were great opportunities for members to make new friends and network with members from squadrons throughout the state.

The formal conference began Saturday morning, with a General Assembly in which participants were welcomed to Las Cruces by Mayor Miyagishima, then heard a report on the state of the Wing from Col. Himebrook. The Wing commander was followed by William Gutman, Technical Director for Spaceport America, Joe Curry from National Headquarters, and SW Region Commander Col. Joseph Jensen. Gutman’s presentation brought members up to date on the progress of construction at New Mexico’s spaceport, which will be headquarters for Virgin Galactic’s commercial suborbital space flights. The spaceport is expected to draw tourists from around the world and provide many aerospace-related jobs in the state.

Following the morning’s General Assembly, there were numerous seminars on different aspects of CAP, including safety, logistics, aerospace education, professional development, and drug demand reduction. During this period, Col. Mary Feik held a fireside chat with cadets. As a legendary test pilot, mechanic, and aircraft restorer, Feik is highly popular with cadets and thoroughly enjoys talking with and inspiring young people.

At the end of the afternoon, participants gathered for another General Assembly that featured speakers from New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Branch Community College, outlining technical and training programs at their institutions. A highlight of this assembly was an inspiring presentation by Col. Michael Schwartz of the NM National Guard.

Following a late-afternoon social hour, members convened for the Awards Banquet. An excellent dinner was followed by numerous awards recognizing achievements throughout the Wing over the past year. The top awards included: Squadron of the Year, Albuquerque Senior Squadron II; Cadet of the year, C/Maj Daniel A. Paulsen; Senior Member of the Year, Major Donna E. Bracken; Family of the Year, the McNichol family; and Decade of Dedication award, Lt. Col. James H. Gary.

The evening closed with eagerly-anticipated entertainment by Lt. Col. Paul Salos, of the Texas Wing. Salas, who was active in CAP missions following Hurricane Katrina and the Columbia space-shuttle disaster, has perfected an impersonation of Frank Sinatra that carried him to the top 10 on the “America’s Got Talent” TV show. Salas has performed his Sinatra show for audiences around the world, and the NM Wing members received his performance enthusiastically.

On Sunday, a nondenominational devotional service was followed by additional seminars on communications, finance, inspector general, and a meeting of the Cadet Advisory Council.  As the conference ended, all who participated felt it had been a rewarding and interesting meeting.

“The Las Cruces Composite Squadron did an excellent job in organizing this conference, and we appreciate all their hard work. They made it possible for members from throughout the state to meet, network with each other, learn new things about CAP, and have a good time,” concluded Col. Himebrook. Himebrook also commended the Las Cruces Composite Squadron’s Cadet Color Guard for their opening and closing colors ceremonies.



NM Wing Gets “Excellent” Rating in OPSEVAL

By Capt. Dave Finley

The New Mexico Wing completed its OPSEVAL, a major statewide emergency-services exercise, on 26 September, in which a U.S. Air Force evaluation team gave the Wing an overall rating of Excellent.
The CAP members demonstrated their skills in aerial search and rescue, disaster relief, and support for homeland security. The Air Force team directed the exercise by providing a simulated scenario involving overdue aircraft, massive wildfires, and terrorist threats. New Mexico CAP members working in the air and on the ground reacted to the simulated incident reports, which presented them with multiple problems and changing scenarios.

“This was an excellent chance for our team of emergency-services specialists to react to a rapidly-changing and fluid situation. Our members had to plan operations, change those plans quickly to address new priorities, and conduct operations under the stress of a swiftly-changing situation,” said Lt. Col. Jon Hitchcock, the Incident Commander for the exercise.

Colonel Richard Himebrook, commander of the New Mexico Wing, congratulated the team, saying their excellent rating is “well deserved and showed not only what the New Mexico wing can do, but reflects well on CAP as whole.”

More than 50 CAP members, including crews for nine aircraft plus support and communications personnel on the ground in locations around the state, participated in the exercise. The operation was planned and controlled from a mission base at the Farmington airport. The Wing received an overall Excellent rating with 8 Excellent and 5 Successful subarea ratings. Especially mentioned were the Flight Line crew led by Lt. Griffin Lane and Capt. William Fitzpatrick, the Communications group led by Capt. Glenn Mauger, and Plans led by Lt. Col. Dave Simonson.

Aircraft were directed to numerous locations, including Cochiti Dam, Navajo Dam, Heron Lake, El Vado, Chaco, Silver City, and Hatch, as well as the track of a “missing” helicopter in the Four Corners area. The CAP flying crews made visual searches of the ground, as well as taking digital photos of specified locations and rapidly providing those photos for detailed analysis by ground personnel. The flight crews also used specialized equipment for locating emergency locator radio beacons activated by aircraft crashes.

During the exercise, the Air Force team added difficulties for the CAP, such as simulating one of the CAP aircraft going “missing,” ground personnel showing signs of extreme stress, and a forced evacuation of the command post. “They threw us some curve balls, but our team reacted effectively and professionally,” Hitchcock said.

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