By Jeremy Skalicky
The history of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a long and storied one. From conception, to ocean patrols, submarine hunters, radio communications, training cadets, cyberspace security, and search and rescue, CAP has an interesting history. The one thing that has remained constant through the decades is the dedication and volunteerism of its members.
I know that statistics can be a little boring, but here are a few interesting ones:
1. CAP operates one of the largest single engine aircraft fleets in the world.
2. We do approximately 90% of the inland search and rescue in the US.
3. CAP saved 130 lives in 2020.
4. We provide FEMA-level emergency response.
5. We transport time-sensitive medical supplies.
6. CAP provides highly specialized aerial imaging, intercept training and radio communications support.
These are just a few things that the Civil Air Patrol does for its country, state, and local programs.
Locally, we have flown photo missions for the flood in 2011, conducted Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), lost aircraft, and missing person searches. We have transported Covid-19 tests and supplies, participated in hurricane reconnaissance missions, and honored our fallen by supporting the Wreath Across America program. We work closely with, and for, FEMA, law enforcement, emergency services, and the Minot Air Force Base.
There is a common misconception that you have to be a pilot or in the military to join CAP. This is simply not true. We are a volunteer, non-profit organization that is chartered by Congress and supported by the U.S. Air Force. We have achieved Total Force and First Responder status. We accept people 12 years old and up, from varying backgrounds and occupations. If you have a skill or a wish to serve your community, the Civil Air Patrol can find a place for you.
Now for my history with the CAP
My name is Jeremy Skalicky, I am the current CAP Squadron Commander for the Minot area. We are known as the Magic City Composite Squadron, which means that we have senior members and cadets together. Honestly, I joined CAP to find a way to get some flight training and flying time. However, I have learned and done so much more.
I was a volunteer sheriff’s deputy for Ward County, when I had an opportunity to receive some training at a conference in Jamestown, ND. While at the conference, I signed up for my sessions and was most of the way through the conference, when I noticed a scheduled class for ground search techniques that was put on by a member of the North Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. I had heard of the Civil Air Patrol, but never really knew what it was all about. Being a new pilot, it piqued my interest, so I changed my scheduled class to attend the search training.
The class was put on by Col. William Kay, who showed us the skills and techniques of searching for clues that would lead to locating our target. After the class had finished, I decided to ask him what CAP was, and if there was a need for a person like me. I told him that I had recently received my private pilot’s license and was looking for a way to maintain my flight currency, receive some training, and help my community. I was intrigued and excited by his response. Col Kay proceeded to tell me all the opportunities that CAP had available for me. I expressed my interest and went about my business. I couldn’t have been more excited.
Col. Kay had flown from Minot to Jamestown for the conference and I had driven. By the time I had driven home hours later, I had a message waiting for me. Col. Kay had started the process for me to join the Civil Air Patrol before I had even returned home. I wasted no time in completing the requirements, joining, and taking full advantage of the program. I advanced my pilot training and worked my way through the mission pilot requirements, learning to fly different aircraft and avionics packages.
After a few years, our squadron commander was relocating and had to step down. He was looking for a person to assume command. I timidly raised my hand and expressed my interest. A few months later, with a seemingly daunting task ahead of me, I assumed command of the Magic City Composite Squadron. In my time with CAP, I received my ham radio license, became Mission Radio Operator and achieved full Mission Pilot capabilities,
I have learned so much and received so much gratification in my time with CAP. Our unit has undergone many changes, suffered some setbacks, and had its numbers dwindle. With the onset of Covid-19, our membership and our leadership have been tested to the limit. With everything that has happened in the world and to our group, I am proud to say that we have cultivated a good group of core members that are dedicated to the success and promotion of CAP. I am happy to see that it looks like the tide is turning and our future is looking brighter as we get back to what we do best. I highly recommend contacting your local Civil Air Patrol and starting your adventure today.
Interested in learning more about the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol Wing?