Civil Air Patrol helps with Puerto Rico disaster relief


A Florida Wing Civil Air Patrol Aircraft is inspected by cadets and senior members before takeoff.

Puerto Rico felt the effects of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake Jan. 7. Since then, the island has continued to suffer powerful aftershocks, one of which measured 5.9 magnitude. Due to these incidents, Civil Air Patrol, an Air Force auxiliary made up of volunteers, will be sending aircraft to the island to support disaster relief efforts.

“We will be flying the aircraft from Florida to Puerto Rico,” Major Michael Harrison said. “You need to be 18 to be on the flight crew, but cadets can work on the ground team and do flight-line marshaling.”

The aircraft in use will be Civil Air Patrol Cessna-182 and Cessna-172 single engine aircraft. Normally, they are used for training cadets to fly, but sometimes they are used for special tasks.

“I’ve seen two aircraft at my squadron, the Patrick (Air Force Base) Composite Squadron,” Airman Parker Gross said. “I don’t know of any cadets or senior members in my squadron that are going to help with the relief efforts.”

Cadets join the program for many reason. Some join just for the fun of it. Others join as a way to start a career in the Air Force. Scholarships for the Air Force Academy as well as AFROTC scholarships are available through the program, and if a cadet earns their Mitchell Award, they will be able to enlist in the Air Force as an Airman First Class.

“I joined because it sounded fun and I wanted to be in the Air Force,” Gross said. “I’ve been in the program for two years now.”

By Cooper Thomson