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Hawaii’s Civil Air Patrol Seeks Funding To Continue Its Mission

April 21, 2024

An article posted by Civil Beat for UH Beat 

written by: Kekona Naipo-Arsiga

 

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi - More than a thousand feet in the air recently, a trained pilot switched control of a Cessna to Timothy Shelton, a freshman at Campbell High School. Despite not being able to legally drive a car, Shelton found himself piloting an aircraft through open blue skies.

Shelton is an aspiring youth aviator with the Civil Air Patrol, a nonprofit organization that assists emergency management agencies in the state and helps train a generation of new pilots. 

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to bolster funding for the program, which has been operating with an annual deficit of approximately $10,000 since 2019. The program is an auxiliary service of the U.S. Air Force and has been operating in Hawaii since 1947. 

Andrew Teal, Noah Haruguchi and Joshua Kraft are training to become the next generation of aviators through the Civil Air Patrol program. (Kekona Naipo-Arsiga/University of Hawaii/2024)

 

Shelton, a cadet airman first class, was taken on an orientation flight. Young pilots range in age from 12 to 18 years old. 

Supporters of the bill say that the funding of the Civil Air Patrol pays for itself in long-term impacts — not only from emergency services but also from the training it provides Hawaii’s future workforce. Through the program, cadets learn essential aeronautical skills that will prepare them for potential careers in aviation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in high demand in the state. 

“High schoolers, for example, we can show them how to fly at a significantly lower cost or no cost to them,” said Col. Stacy Haruguchi, wing commander for the Hawaii Civil Air Patrol. “The faster we can get people enough hours to fly for the airlines, for example, the faster they can make enough money to support themselves.”

Another concern for legislators is that in the event of a natural disaster, communication channels can be disrupted and teens like Shelton, plus the 700 other volunteers within the Civil Air Patrol can help, said Sen. Glenn Wakai. The Civil Air Patrol is one of the only organizations that will go into disaster zones and take aerial photographs to provide critical data to government officials, he said.

“We’re like a communication pathway, with equipment such as a Starlink terminal, handheld radios and aircraft that can relay some of that information to emergency responders and citizens,” Haruguchi said.

If cell phone service is down during a disaster, he added, the Civil Air Patrol can help augment communications for the Red Cross and shelter managers.

Shelton said it was a bit scary at first being so high up.

“After about 10 minutes, it’s OK though,” he said, because “you figure out how to control it; the airplane is no longer flying you, you’re flying it.” After learning about CAP through a family member, it piqued his interest to see that he has a chance to pilot real aircraft and develop an invaluable set of skills at a young age.

A few of Shelton and other cadets with CAP said the program provides them with meaningful experiences in the air and in the classroom.

“I came into this knowing that I wanted to be a pilot,” said Cadet Airman Cyrus Ortogero. “But what I’m really gaining is a purpose. This training is molding me into the man that I hope to become one day.”

Rep. Justin Woodson, one of the introducers of the bill, said the amount CAD receives in state funding is “far less than what we get out of it as a state in terms of emergency services.” 

“If this is a way to simultaneously help the younger generations as well as the emergency services for our state,” he said, “then that is a good program that we should all be supporting.”

 

To read the original article, please visit Honolulu Civil Beat 

Mahalo to Mr. Kekona Naipo-Arsiga for covering this important story for the Hawaii Wing Civil Air Patrol 

 

For More Information:

Kekona Naipo-Arsiga

Kekona Naipo-Arsiga

Kekona Naipo-Arsiga studies journalism at the University of Hawaii Manoa. He is from Hilo and covers breaking news and business.

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