SRQ Composite Squadron Cadets and Senior Members Tour NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 5, Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 by Author: 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll.

On July 28-30, fifteen cadets and six senior members from the SRQ Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) spent three days and two nights at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral, getting an insider’s tour of the facilities and learning about America’s space program.

Cadet/Airman 1st Class Matthew Downer said of the experience, “I furthered my friendships with other cadets and learned a lot about the shuttle program.” Cadet/Airman Melissa Nepomuseno-grez added, “I learned about the safety precautions scientists and astronauts needed to take when launching rockets and the space shuttles.”

On Saturday, the group toured Kennedy Space Center by bus, saw the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) which is more than 500-feet tall, and launch pads 39 A and B, the launch platforms for the shuttles and SpaceX rockets. That bus tour ended at the Saturn V museum with the Apollo mission simulator of the firing room. The rest of the day at KSC included watching the IMAX movie and touring the Atlantis exhibit and simulator and the Mars rovers.  

The next day, cadets and senior members took a private bus tour of Cape Canaveral led by Lt. Col. Gary Dahlke, Director of Aerospace Education for the Florida Wing and a member of the TICO Composite Squadron in Titusville, Fla. Dahlke, an engineer with NASA, worked on the heat shield systems for the Space Shuttle program. The group received a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic Gemini, Mercury and Apollo launch pads, and the Mercury firing room.

Trips like this allow cadets to get hands-on experience and to learn more about the history and future of America’s space program than they could learn in a classroom. And, they build stronger friendships and create unforgettable memories.

This special experience is just one of the opportunities that students have through CAP’s cadet program. CAP cadets can experience survival training, flight training, photography, astronomy, model rocketry and more.  Each year, cadets participate in special activities at the local, state, regional or national level. Many cadets have the opportunity to fly an airplane for the first time through a flight encampment or academy. Others enjoy traveling abroad through the International Air Cadet Exchange Program. Still others assist at major air shows throughout the nation.

Based at the Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, the SRQ Composite Squadron is one of more than 1,700 Civil Air Patrol squadrons across the nation. The SRQ Composite Squadron includes 101 members: 59 senior members and 42 cadets. Members put general aviation to its best use, dedicated to saving lives, flying counter-drug missions, participating in homeland security efforts, providing disaster relief, advancing young people, and supporting America’s educators. For information about the SRQ Composite Squadron of CAP, visit

Cadet/Sr. Airman Brandon Olson sits at the controls of a shuttle simulator. (Photo Credit: Capt. Ann Marie Kozloski, CAP)

South Lakeland Composite Squadron Change of Command Ceremony
Filed under Florida Wing, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7 on Saturday, August 12, 2017 by Author: 2nd Lt. James Chamberland Sr..

A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the unit and its members are never without official leadership.

On Thursday, July 27th, 1st Lt Paul Jilbert relinquished the command of the South Lakeland Composite Squadron to the incoming commander, Lt. Col. Steve Schultz during a Change of Command ceremony presided by Group 3 Commander, Major Steve Lampasona.

Lt. Col. Schultz joined CAP as a cadet in 1985 with the Spokane (WA) Composite Squadron, eventually earning CAP's highest cadet achievement, the General Carl A. Spaatz Award in 1998.  Lt. Col. Schultz has continued to serve as a senior member in a number of different roles with the Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, California, Texas & Florida Wings. He is also a former Active Duty & Air Force Reserve officer, primarily serving as a KC-10 aircraft commander. Lt. Col. Schultz' family is also active with the squadron; Major Gloria Ribas-Schultz is the Deputy Commander for Cadets & Health Service Officer. They have two daughters, Miranda & Catherine that actively participate in the cadet program.

The South Lakeland Composite Squadron would like to thank Lt. Jilbert for the number of significant contributions he made to the unit during his tenure, most notably the creation of the squadron website and enhanced electronic communication network. His IT skills did not go un-noticed at the Group & Wing level; Lt. Jilbert has recently accepted the position of Florida Wing's Director of Information Technology.

Congratulations to both Lt. Col. Schultz & Lt. Jilbert.  Semper Vigilans!

Florida Volunteer Airmen Demonstrate Readiness for Emergencies
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7 on Saturday, August 12, 2017 by Author: Lt. Col. Jeff P. Carlson.

Civil Air Patrol Florida Wing conducted a multi-day training exercise to evaluate its readiness to perform non-combat missions as an auxiliary of the Air Force through its emergency services program. 

CAP members from around the state traveled to the Tampa Bay area to participate in the operation evaluation.  The bi-annual exercise is monitored by a field evaluation team from CAP USAF which is responsible for ensuring that Civil Air Patrol is organized, trained, and equipped to fulfill Air Force-assigned missions.

In addition to the aerospace education and cadet programs, CAP conducts a variety of missions to assist federal, state, local agencies, and non-governmental organizations during routine and emergency situations. These missions, Homeland Security; Search and Rescue; Disaster Relief; Aerial Surveys and many more, draw on a capability that includes aircraft, vehicles, communications equipment and a force of trained volunteers. By utilizing CAP to perform these missions, Air Force units, personnel, and resources are made available to perform other Air Force missions.

“The feedback and evaluation provided by the CAP-USAF allow us to validate the effectiveness of our training and provides insight into our ability to respond under challenging conditions,” said Florida Wing Commander, Col. Luis Garcia. “Additionally, it provides important feedback to tailor the 2018 training plan.”

The operation evaluation, or OpsEval, is scheduled every two years and provides an opportunity for the wing’s emergency services program to demonstrate its capability and capacity to perform non-combat missions as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force doctrine. The event was originally schedule in 2016 and was precluded by the disaster response mission to Hurricane Matthew where missions crews provided more than 20,000 aerial images of Florida’s coastal region affected by the storm.

The operation evaluation typically includes scenarios that require photographic surveys or conducting visual and electronic searches that require coordination between aerial and ground resources. In addition, mission base personnel are tasked to support the teams in the field. The CAP-USAF team monitors the mission activity while providing exercise injects to increase the level of challenge.

“The mission personnel had to overcome several challenges to successfully complete the mission objectives,” said Maj. Pedro Feliciano, CAP-USAF’s Southeast Liaison Region Director of Operations. “In every instance, the Florida mission team met or exceeded mission requirements.” 

Feliciano was supported by CAP-USAF SELR Reserve Forces Director, Lt. Col. Micheal Schwartz along with a team of nine reservists. CAP-USAF is responsible for ensuring that Civil Air Patrol is organized, trained, and equipped to fulfill Air Force-assigned missions. This is accomplished by providing day-to-day support, advice and liaison to CAP and provides oversight for CAP programs, with particular emphasis on safety and programmatic requirements.

Of CAP’s 52 wings, Florida Wing is one of the largest in terms of membership and according to Garcia has “one of the higher mission tempos in the nation”. The wing conducts a wide variety of missions as the volunteer auxiliary of the Air Force. Garcia explained that Florida Wing operations includes “daily support to local and federal customers”.   

The tempo requires a well-trained force of volunteers. Between assigned-missions, CAP units conduct a training schedule that allows members to keep qualifications current and to safely execute their mission. The standardized training allows members from different units to form a crew team and immediately perform effectively and efficiently.

“The continuous training cycle along with our daily missions ensure that Florida Wing is ready to support the State of Florida, the USAF, and other agencies with trained and safe crews,” said Garcia.

In 2016, the Secretary of Air Force revised the Total Force designation to include Civil Air Patrol. Under the revision, Air Force commanders are encouraged to request CAP to conduct missions that are within CAP’s capability to perform.  

“Florida Wing is able to provide professional and effective support at cost effective manner,” said Garcia. “But we are only able to do this because of the commitment to excellence and to service by our volunteer members.”   

Because of the types of aircraft and equipment it employs and the volunteer nature of its members, CAP is often able to perform the mission at a lower cost than comparable Air Force units or commercial contractors, and thereby presents a more cost effective way for the Air Force to accomplish its non-combat missions.

Garcia added, “I want to thank the members who took the time to prepare for and participate in the OpsEval exercise. This is an important event and your superior performance reflects well upon the entire wing.”

Mission Aircrew 1st Lt Keith Evert, Mission Pilot, and 2nd Lt. Robert Bulluck, Mission Observer, complete pre-flight inspection. (Photo: Capt. Sybrian Castleman)

Tuskegee Airmen Observe 75th anniversary of Historic Squadron
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 3 on Friday, August 11, 2017 by Author: Maj. Dennis Maloney.

Members of Civil Air Patrol Florida Wing joined the Tuskegee Airmen Institute in observing the organization’s anniversary at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center August 3-5, 2017. Fourteen CAP members attended the historical celebration of our country’s heroes for their bravery and service.

The event featured a number of activities to bring greater awareness about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and their contributions to the nation. Civil Air Patrol continued its long-standing support of the current day Tuskegee Airmen’s mission. CAP members provided a color guard at the youth luncheon for the Tuskegee members, worked with the Tuskegee Youth sponsored project, manned a CAP information booth and spoke with many Tuskegee heroes throughout the event.

The Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI) was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1972, ending nearly 30 years of anonymity for the brave men and women who were part of the “Tuskegee Experience” during World War II. TAI is a non-military, non-profit entity that exists primarily to motivate and inspire young Americans to become engaged in our nation’s society and democratic process. Their legacy inspires many to continue to overcome challenges that still affect our nation today.

TAI sponsors scholarships and organizes youth training events in order to strengthen their cause for educating young minds and encouraging young people to reach for their goals. A partnership with TAI and Civil Air Patrol provided STEM kits (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) containing hydraulic engineering models for the participants to build. Students attending the event were graduates of the Orange County Public Schools Calculus Project from surrounding Orlando middle schools.

The building activity was led by CAP Senior Member Eric Yuhauz, PhD STEM. The students utilized mechanical concepts to construct four types of wooden hydraulic machines using a small number of syringes (pistons), wooden frames, surgical tubing and liquid. The four machines are a cherry picker, an excavator, a scissor lift and a platform lifter. Yuhauz was the Martin H. Harris – Central Florida Air Force Association Teacher of the Year. He explained the kits are designed to introduce students to levers, linkages and hydraulic fluid power and were created to inspire learners to design machines of their own.

The CAP Color guard had the honor at this year’s TAI Anniversary to present the colors with the Tuskegee Airmen Institute flag to honor those still living and promote pride in the generations of their family members and patrons upholding their history, educational endeavors and TAI mission.

The cadet and adult CAP members spoke with the Tuskegee airmen and their families about CAP service with hopes to promote interest about squadrons near their homes and enhance the love of flying for the youth already connected to their local TA chapters.

The weekend ended with a compliment from Gen. Leon Johnson, TAI – President and Board of Governors, CAP member. “Together our efforts can continue to promote aviation education and inspire the youth of tomorrow.”

Photos provided by Maj. Christina English

Lt. Col. Phil Zedonek Receives the Exceptional Service Award
Filed under Region Hq, Florida Wing, Group 3 on Friday, August 11, 2017 by Author: Maj. Marian Motyl-Szary.

Lt. Col. Phil Zedonek was welcomed to his new “home” – Hillsborough One Senior Squadron (HOSS) – in Tampa on August 1st. 

Lt. Col. Zedonek is well known for his considerable contributions to Civil Air Patrol Florida Wing.  His service includes duty as a Mission Pilot, Mission Scanner, Mission Observer, Safety Officer, Skills Evaluator and Flight Release Officer.  He has served as Group Deputy Commander, Florida Wing Vice Commander, Personnel Officer, Aerospace Education Officer, Government Liaison Officer and Wing Inspector General.  He completed Level 5 of the CAP professional development program in July 2011 and holds a Master or Senior level rating in five specialty tracks.

At his welcome to the squadron, Maj. Sam Chiodo and Capt. Art Stoutenburg  represented Florida Wing Commander Col. Luis Garcia to present Lt. Col. Zedonek with the prestigious Exceptional Service Award.  This recent award will be an excellent accompaniment to the Commander’s Commendation Award presented to him earlier this year.

"In the ten years that Lt.Col. Zedonek has served the Florida Wing, he has always stepped up to the many challenges set before him," said Chiodo. "He has served in the most professional manner with the goal of making the Florida Wing the most successful operation in the Southeast Region."  

"The award is a reflection of the respect many members hold for Lt. Col. Zedonek and our sincere appreciation for the many jobs well done."

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