May 26, 2019

Aviation buffs make up squad to do search-and-rescue jobs

MACHIAS — A group of adults and high school teens from throughout Washington County with a common interest in aviation met Sunday morning at the Machias Valley Airport terminal building in Machias.

The St. Croix Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, boasts a membership ranging from Woodland and Lubec to Machias, Machiasport, Columbia Falls and western Washington County. The group comes under the command of the Maine Wing in Augusta.

Stanley Look of Columbia Falls, squadron commander, teaches school at Narraguagus High School when he’s not involved with squadron duties. Like other CAP members, he is an unpaid volunteer.

The CAP is best known for its role in emergency services, whether it be search and rescue or disaster relief. The meeting Sunday focused on a search-and-rescue training exercise scheduled for April 28 and 29 in Limington.

Other search-and-rescue exercises are scheduled for Aug. 17-19 in Trenton, Sept. 14-16 in Presque Isle, and Dec. 7-9 in Augusta.

Training missions in disaster relief also are scheduled for May 18-20 in Wiscasset, and Oct. 19-21 in Auburn.

CAP members from squadrons throughout the state participate in the joint training exercises.

CAP members fly nearly 80 percent of the hours logged on actual search-and-rescue missions coordinated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Since 1985, CAP provides aerial reconnaissance along the U.S. border for the U.S. Customs Service.

CAP members, as explained by Look on Sunday, are asked to notify authorities if they observe suspicious activity involving aircraft near the border area, especially in remote fields. CAP’s role is passive, and its members are not involved with law enforcement.

The emergency medical airlift of blood and human organs is another role played by CAP members.

Look and Squadron Operations Officer Earl A. Edgerly Jr. of Woodland have been involved recently with recruiting high school teen-agers in the cadet program. Several new cadets attended Sunday’s meeting.

Edgerly announced Sunday that he would meet with students at Machias Memorial High School on April 27. He also is scheduled to talk with students at Lubec High School later this month.

Several members of the squadron own airplanes, which can be registered with the CAP and used for training or actual search missions. Owners are reimbursed for actual expenses relating to the use of their aircraft.

Look is trying to obtain either a four-seat Cessna 172 or C182 from Maine Wing later this year. The airplane would be based at Machias Valley Airport and would be used for actual and practice missions, and for squadron members to use as available to maintain proficiency.

The aircraft also would be used to train CAP members wanting to learn to fly. Look is a certified flight instructor.

The squadron, which began about five years ago, meets twice a month at the Machias Valley Airport.

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