The Civil Air Patrol is a nationwide non-profit organization of volunteers that serves as the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It is open to anyone age 12 and up, divided into Cadets (age 12-21) and Seniors (age 18+). While some members are military veterans and their families, many have no military experience.
The squadron based at the Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport is the only one in York County. They meet each Tuesday evening for training, which may include physical training to reach individual fitness targets; aviation and aerospace classes; flight training in the squadron’s own airplane; emergency services training including communications and first aid; special activities like rocketry, and more. Each month there is an awards and promotions night where members are recognized as they advance to the next rank in the organization.
The Sanford squadron is led by Major Andrew Goldman, who in his day job works as a physician at Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford. When he moved to Maine from New York several years ago, he looked for a way he could put his private pilot’s license to good use and share his passion for aviation and aerospace. He found it in CAP.
CAP’s mission includes providing aviation education and training, especially to its members. Many members go on to get their pilot’s licenses and some go to the Air Force Academy. Another part of its mission is to assist the USAF, and other federal, state and local agencies with emergency services including search-and-rescue and disaster relief. The Sanford squadron has been called upon to help the Maine Warden Service in the search for missing persons, and during the pandemic it has assisted the state Emergency Management Agency with the delivery of PPE and vaccines. Major Goldman said the squadron runs about a dozen missions a year.
A third part of the Civil Air Patrol’s mission is in mentoring youth to become the leaders of tomorrow, whether in military or civilian life. While supervised and taught by Senior members, more experienced Cadets lead the newer Cadets, and in the process develop these leadership skills.
The squadron, one of ten that make up the Maine wing, formed six years ago and quickly grew to the fifteen required members for CAP. It now has 35 members, with three more in the pre-membership stage. Of the 35 members, 22 are Cadets. New members find out about the organization through school and other youth organizations, veterans’ groups, and through word of mouth. Sometimes groups of friends or family members join together. Those with pilot’s licenses are very welcome to join but a license or flying experience is not required. There’s plenty to do on the ground!
The Civil Air Patrol is federally funded, but also relies on donations and fundraising, which help to keep membership fees low. The space used by the Sanford squadron is donated by the owner of the hangar who had some extra room to share.
For more information about the Civil Air Patrol, visit gocivilairpatrol.com or contact Major Goldman at email@example.com.