Civil Air Patrol now has plane based at Bethel Airport
By ALISON ALOISIO
The Civil Air Patrol, which provides emergency services ranging from search and rescue to drug enforcement support, now has a plane and pilots based at the Bethel Airport.
CAP, comprised of civilian pilots and other volunteers, was established just before World War II.
During that war, pilots helped protect America’s coast and rescued hundreds of air crash survivors.
Since then, CAP members have continued to participate in search and rescue and other operations. The organization, under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces, also provides cadet training for its ranks, as well as aerospace education for the public.
The Bethel “Flight,” or group of volunteers, was brought together over the past year by Capt. Joe Roberts, commander of the CAP squadron in Rumford.
The Bethel Flight is an extension of the Rumford Squadron, he said.
Pilots Randy Autrey, Bob Folsom and Tony Milligan are training to become fully qualified under CAP procedural standards.
Autrey is in charge of the Bethel Flight.
Also available locally is Gary Brearley of Bethel, who is the squadron commander for Lewiston.
Two months ago, a 1987 Cessna single-engine CAP plane was brought to Bethel. In the event of a plane crash or other situation that requires a search and rescue operation, “we’re right here,” said Roberts.
In most search situations, he said, pilots are brought into an effort after an initial attempt to locate someone is unsuccessful.
CAP coordinates with other rescue agencies through either a U.S. Air Force operations director, or in the case of a lost hiker-type scenario, the state police.
CAP members, like other emergency personnel, are trained in Federal Emergency Management Agency procedural standards to try to ensure a coordinated response.
CAP also includes ground teams, which can take part in searches in cooperation with the pilots in the air.
CAP also offers a cadet program for ages 12 through 20.
While cadets can only participate in ground searches, they can fly and train in air procedures, too, Roberts said.
Summer camps may include flight academy (intensive training culminating in a solo), glider training, and field trips.
Roberts and Brearley said there is currently one cadet in the immediate Bethel area. But they would like to add more CAP volunteers of all ages.
“We’re up here to recruit,” said Brearley. “We’re building [the Flight], and having a good time. It’s really fun.”
For more information, contact Roberts at 357-3782, or go to www.gocivilairpatrol.com.