The Las Cruces, NM, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has just welcomed another long-time active FASF member to its ranks. Colonel (USAF Retired), John Orton, who is the only former Trustee who flew his own airplane to FASF Board Meetings over the years, has just become a Senior member of the same CAP Squadron which already boasts several other FASF enthusiasts. Two years ago, both the FASF Treasurer, Alma Villezcas, and President, Ric Lambart, were recruited into the same CAP unit by another early FASF member, Colonel Alan Fisher.
REMEMBER: To see any photos in high resolution, simply click on them.
John Orton looks up while working at his laptop’s FEMA training syllabus.
At this past weekend’s monthly CAP SAREX (Search And Rescue Exercise) operation, held at the Las Cruces Municipal Airport, John experienced his first opportunity to take part in one of these regular SAREX programs. During the afternoon, the Squadron also demostrated how it operates to several AFROTC Cadets from NMSU, one of whom is the youngest active member of the FASF, Cadet Captain, Ammber Valverde. Each cadet received an introductory flight in one of the CAP’s Cessna 182 Aircraft during their orientation. These cadets all hope to become pilots in the United States Air Force after they graduate from New Mexico State University. Ammber has already received a Pilot Training Scholarship from the Daedalian Society.
A Short 3 minute long video clip at the bottom of this page shows part of the briefing of several Cadets by one of the squadron’s pilots, Travis McKenzie.
Here are some more of the photos of John,and of the other FASF-CAP members at work:
L to R: Michelle Phillips, John Orton, Travis McKenzie.
Travis McKenzieand Alma Villezcas
Walter Dutton at work.
L to R: Jim McConnell, William Benziger, and John Orton
L to R: Michelle Phillips, John Orton, Travis McKenzie,and Larry Burns
L to R: Jim McConnell, William Benziger, and Mike Legendre
Laptop shows one of the large inter-squadron group instructional pages for the SAREX
L to R: Alan Fisher, Cadets Josh Soliz, Daniel Malone, Race Cannedy, and Ammber Valverde alongside Cessna
L to R: Cadet Race Cannedy, Col.Alan Fisher, cadets Daniel Malone and Ammber Valverde get pre-flight briefing
Colonel Fisherdescribes upcoming familiarization flight with Ammber Valverde
L to R: Travis McKenzie explains seat belt arrangement to Cadet Soliz
Cadet Captain Ammber Valverde checks out the Cessna Flight Data Pad
Ammber gets instructed on cockpit procedures and instrument pane by Travis McKenzie
Cadets Soliz and Valverde give a ready to go thumbs up, as Pilot TravisMcKenzie gets ready to start the Cessna
Ms. Villezcasjoined the Las Cruces CAP Squadron 24 a year ago with the intention of learning to fly with the CAP, which is a full-fledged Auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF) – (see Air Force photo above with the two USAF Aircraft: A CAP Cessna and F-16 Jet Fighter), which supplies all of the facilities and equipment, including costly modern aircraft, to each Squadron throughout the U.S. For this reason the CAP uniforms are based upon the USAF’s.
Mission Pilot, Dave Bjorness (L), and Scanner Trainee, Alma Villezcas (R) in the process of conducting their Preflight Inspection of the CAP Cessna Skylane prior to the Mission . . .All photos in this story may be seen in full resolution by simply clicking on them.
The origins of Civil Air Patrol date to 1936, when Gill Robb Wilson, World War I aviator and New Jersey director of aeronautics, returned from Germany convinced of impending war. Wilsonenvisioned mobilizing America’s civilian aviators for national defense, an idea also shared by other aviation activists.
In Ohio, Milton Knight, a pilot and businessman, organized and incorporated the Civilian Air Reserve (CAR) in 1938. Other military-styled civilian aviation units emerged nationwide and helped train pilots for defense of the homeland.
In 1941, Wilson launched his perfected program: the Civil Air Defense Services (CADS). That summer, tasked by Fiorello H. LaGuardia (New York mayor and director of the federal Office of Civilian Defense and also a World War I aviator), Wilson, publisher Thomas H. Beck and newspaperman Guy P. Gannettproposed Wilson’sCADS program as a model for organizing the nation’s civilian aviation resources.
Their proposal for a Civil Air Patrol was approved by the Commerce, Navy, and War departments in November, and CAP National Headquarters opened its doors on Dec. 1, 1941, under the direction of national commander Maj. Gen. John F. Curry. Existing CADS, CAR and other flying units soon merged under the CAP banner. Public announcement of CAP and national recruiting commenced on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor..
CAP Personnel in military formation in front of one of their Stinson Patrol Aircraft in 1942.
L to R above: Mission PILOT, Dave Bjorness, Mission Commander and Flight OBSERVER, William Benzinger, and Alma Villezcas, Mission SCANNER Trainee,briefing about their tasks and esponsibilities before their Mission.
Above, Ground Team Personnel, Mike Legendre, (L) briefing Communications Officer, Joe Parea, at right. Each mission, whether a practice exercise operation, or a genuine emergency mission, requires numerous ground based personnel working closely with, and in constant radio communication with the CAP aircraft “eyes in the sky.”
Above, Alma readies for the Mission, which will entail scanning for a downed aircraft and taking hi-resolution color photographs of it and the surrounding terrain for ground rescue agencies’ guidance.
Above, Alma checks out her Intercom equipment, as flight crew readies for engine startup. She has already opened the side window’s Camera Port. The High Resolution Professional Digital Camera must shoot all photos through this open window so that no window reflections nor glare interfere with the photo’s high quality.
The aircraft has started its engine and begins to taxi out for take off. The CAP Squadron’s main hangar is in the background above.
Alma and her crew returned safely from their successful 2 hour long SAR Mission Exercise, having finally located the simulated downed aircraft and also it’s ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) radio signal.
The following 7 minute video gives a moving glimpse into what Almaexperienced during her very first CAP Training flight.