top of page


Heather Wilson, Secretary of Air Force, Hails Civil Air Patrols 70-Year Role as Auxiliary

Lt. Col. Crystal Housman
Civil Air Patrol Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson reflected on Civil Air Patrol’s seven-decade history as the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force along with her personal connection to the organization when she addressed CAP members Aug. 25 during her keynote speech at the National Conference in Anaheim, California. An audience of 700 members and guests listened as Wilson told the story of her grandfather, George C. “Scotty” Wilson, who flew in Britain’s Royal Air Force and barnstormed around America before his love of aviation and desire to serve led him to CAP during World War II. "He joined a group of volunteers,” Wilson said.”He towed targets and chased submarines off the coast in various parts around New England.” Wilson’s grandfather was one of 125,000 CAP subchasers during the war. They found 173 German subs off America’s coast and attacked 57.

The organization was founded Dec. 1, 1941, predating the creation of the Air Force in September 1947. CAP became the service’s official auxiliary on May 26, 1948, with President Harry S. Truman’s signing of Public Law 80-557. It was the same year George Wilson, who logged more than 1,000 flying hours with CAP, took the helm as commander of CAP’s New Hampshire Wing. He served in the role from 1948 -1954.

 The aviator passed his love of flying down to his granddaughter, who grew up spending Saturdays in an airplane hangar. “I saw joy in that hangar,” Wilson said, drawing a corollary between her youth in aviation and the experiences CAP cadets encounter today. Addressing the organization’s adult members, she continued, “and all of you here are responsible for what the next generation sees.”

She recalled meeting a nervous CAP cadet at the 2017 EAA Oshkosh AirVenture air show in Wisconsin.

“The young people you work with are learning skills, but they are also way out of their comfort zone ... in a safe place,” Wilson said. “It’s when you’re out of your comfort zone growing up that you’re learning what it means to be a responsible member of the community. It causes young people to grow into better versions of themselves.” Two of those young people have grown to become pilots on this year’s U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 aerial demonstration team, she said. “That’s not too shabby for kids who grew up flying Cessnas,” Wilson said, referring to CAP’s fleet of general aviation single-engine planes.

From inspiring the next generation of F-16 pilots to training those of today, Civil Air Patrol has a direct impact on the Air Force, she said. The auxiliary flies an average of 200 air defense missions every year throughout the country. Federal Aviation Administration rules require remotely piloted aircraft to have an escort when they fly outside military airspace. Last year, CAP logged more than 600 flight hours escorting the New York Air National Guard’s MQ-9 Reapers from their home in Syracuse, New York, to nearby military airspace for training.


Turning to CAP’s long-standing work with the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Wilson credited the auxiliary with handling 90-95 percent of the center’s inland search and rescue missions. “Henry David Thoreau was fond of saying, ‘the only people who ever get any place interesting are the people who get lost.’ That goes double for the people who find them,” she said.

The auxiliary has saved 146 lives since the fiscal year began in October. “That’s 146 people who got to make that phone call home to say, ‘I’m all right. Civil Air Patrol found me,’” Wilson said.

She spoke of the organization’s work with other state and federal agencies, including support missions for the Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Shortly before her speech, CAP’s Texas Wing was lauded by AFNORTH for its work to provide aerial imagery for FEMA during Hurricane Harvey a year earlier.

As Wilson ended her remarks, she defined what the Air Force expects of its Auxiliary Airmen. “We expect proficiency at your skills: flying, geolocation, emergency management [and] search and rescue,” she said. “We expect you to be good at what you do. We expect you to be safe in your operation.” “I also expect you to engage the next generation in a way that is positive and meaningful,” Wilson said, turning her focus back to the 25,000 young people currently serving in CAP’s cadet program.

Before her speech, Wilson engaged one of them herself.

“Actually meeting the Secretary of the Air Force and sitting down and talking with her about our program was such an honor,” said Cadet Staff Sgt. Chloe Hirohata of Billie L. LeClair Cadet Squadron 31 in Riverside, California. “It warmed my heart, really, knowing that someone in such a high position of power understands where we come from, understands our program and understands what we’re all about.”

Chapter Recognizes Local School Student

In recognition of Civil Air Patrol’s 75th years of outstanding community service, the AFA, Gold Coast Chapter members who are active partners with CAP in Aerospace and STEM Education, proposed an essay competition for CAP cadets at the Crystal Lake Middle School Cadet School Squadron.

 Ms S. Phillips, administrator of school gave permission to have a CAP exhibit in the school’s entry foyer.  The cadets proudly put up the CAP celebration banner; an enlarged poster of CAP’s history and a well-known WWII picture of a yellow Piper Cub plane flown by CAP over an enemy submarine.

The AFA Gold Coast Chapter has been closely tied with the Crystal Lake Middle School Squadron since 1995 when Colonel David Mikelson (USAF Ret) and an AFA member started the School Squadron Group in Florida. By 2006, before moving to Vermont, Col. Mikelson started nineteen school squadrons throughout Florida.  His first two school squadrons which are the only two still successfully operational are the Crystal Lake CAP Middle School Cadet Squadron and Miramar High School CAP Squadron.

The CLMSCS Commander Capt. Traci Cohen as well as three former commanders have all been AFA members of the Gold Coast Chapter and GCC ToYs.  It was at Colonel Mikelson’s suggestion that the essay contest was initiated. The essay was “How has CAP affected my life and how will it change my life”.  Twenty cadets competed and the essay winner was Cadet Airman Del Campo.

At a CAP Squadron Meeting in February, Capt. Cohen introduced Col. Mikelson and Virgina Montalvo, Gold Coast President to the squadron members.  Col Mikelson was delighted to see how the unit had grown.  He was especially pleased with the number of cadets who had participated in the essay contest and excited to present the award to the winning cadet.  Kudos to Cadet Del Campo!

Chapter Member Visits Quito's Equator Museum

Enroute from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito Ecuador to Baltra Seymour Airport, Galapagos, Virginia Knudsen stopped at the Quito's equator museum where the science behind the Coriolis Effect was demonstrated.

"Tropospheric and Stratospheric wind currents are generally considered when flight planning. But how the Coriolis Effect impacts those flight calculations is a question to discuss with STEM science students focusing their studies in environmental aviation."
Happy flight planning whatever your location.


Edward Weber 1922-2017

Edward Weber (Ed), WWII US Marine died May 8, 2017 at the age of 94. We are saddened by the death of this loyal friend and will miss him greatly.

Ed was born in New York City and joined the United States Marines in 1943. As a Marine he served in the Pacific theater with the 2nd Marine    

Division. His most notable combat mission was the bloody battle of Tarawa and in 1944. Shortly after General MacArthur returned to the Philippines, Sgt Weber returned to civilian life. Ed became a NYC fireman and eventually retired from the New York City Fire Department. Retiring to Florida, he continued his involvement with the USMC League, Firemen Association and the ELKS.

In recent years, Ed was reasonably active with Gold Coast Chapter of the Air Force Association. He attended two state conventions and contributed to chapter decisions. Pictured below is Mr. Ed Weber dancing at one of the conventions in celebration of his 91 birthday. He always had the energy to attend luncheons. He loved talking to people and on many occasions would joyously burst into song, entertaining those present.

Ed Weber was the epitome of “once a Marine, always a Marine”. For a number of years, Ed was asked to place the USMC ceremonial holiday wreath at Lake Worth’s VA National Cemetery. He had a heart for veterans and felt privileged to “Remember and Honor” his fallen comrades.

Throughout the years, a very generous Ed supported military museums and military causes. But particularly he delighted in helping young people. He helped whenever or where ever he could. He was especially fond of the Civil Air Patrol and JROTC Cadets. Below Ed is pictured with the 2015 winning AFA Cyber(security)Patriot team. He mesmerized them with his stories and encouraging comments.

During Fleet Week 2014, the Captain of the USS New York personally invited Ed for a tour of the ship. Both men sensed each other’s love of country in their conversation. It was a memorable moment to see Captain Brunett without hesitation join Ed on the ship’s gangplank as Ed was disembarking to respectfully salute the American flag together in honor to our nation. VSM

Leo Gray 1924-2016

Leo R. Gray, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret) of the original Tuskegee Red Tail Pilots died Sept. 23, 2016 at the age of 92.

In his retirement years Leo was a motivational speaker. He always stressed the importance of persistence and of overcoming obstacles encountered in life. This is the legacy Leo leaves to those he mentored. We shall miss this great patriot and great American.


Congratulations to the STEM2STEAM UAV/Drone Teams: Zeus & Icarus

  • On Saturday, May 7, 2016 International Drone Day, FAU held a National UAV Championship Competition. Competitive teams were challenged with programming their drones through obstacle courese, time trial slalom, search and rescue maze with coding presentation. (two 1st place, two 2nd place; two 3rd place & 1st place Overall). Winning a trophy in every event, Ms Knudsen, team coach/sponsor stated, "Parkway's UAV Team Zeus and Team Icarus came home with a total of seven trophies, earning 1st Place Overall Performance in the Middle School Division. The teams were dedicated to learn new programming skills to support their aviation-flight expertise." The teams would like to express appreciation to our sponsors, Air Force Association Gold Coast and team parents, Dr. Gamarra and Mr Weldon, who assisted with team training and competition support.


Remarks by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the Air Force Association

Good morning. Scott, thank you for that introduction and Secretary James, General Welsh, Betty and the whole gang here. I know most of the people in this room. It’s good to be with you. We have a number of distinguished guests, elected officials, and our wonderful, wonderful airmen and the 100,000 members of AFA.  To all of you, thanks for having me here today. To you and to the nearly half a million men and women in the United States Air Force who are serving around the world on active duty, in the reserves, or National Guard, an early Happy 68th to you!

                        I can see the strength of the Air Force in so many of its leaders and members who are here today.  CONTINUE READING

bottom of page