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CAP flies over Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Mr. Tom Stelich, a mission pilot and captain with the Santa Barbara Composite Squadron 131 of the Civil Air Patrol, flies south along the California coast here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Mr. Tom Stelich, a mission pilot and captain with the Santa Barbara Composite Squadron 131 of the Civil Air Patrol, flies south along the California coast here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Richard Wright, the 30th Mission Support Group commander, and Col. L.C. Coffey III, the 30th Launch Group commander, discuss details about their flight with retired Lt. Col. Steve Clark, a deputy commander with with the Vandenberg Composite Squadron 101 here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Richard Wright, the 30th Mission Support Group commander, and Col. L.C. Coffey III, the 30th Launch Group commander, discuss details about their flight with retired Lt. Col. Steve Clark, a deputy commander with with the Vandenberg Composite Squadron 101 here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Civil Air Patrol GA8 Airvan takes off from the flightline here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots.  (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Civil Air Patrol GA8 Airvan takes off from the flightline here Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The Civil Air Patrol showcased the benefits they can provide to the Vandenberg mission, as well as conducted warm-up training for mission pilots. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Vandenberg Composite Squadron 101 of the Civil Air Patrol conducted a flight training mission here Jan. 29.

The training was meant to familiarize Civil Air Patrol pilots with military airspace flying and the air control requirements specific to Vandenberg.

"Vandenberg has a lot of restricted areas," said Mr. Steven Clark, a Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel with Squadron 101. "To be able to work with frontier control out here at Vandenberg, it takes a bit of practice."

As an Air Force auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol conducts non-combat missions, including the search and rescue of downed aircraft in the continental U.S. The all-volunteer force also assists Homeland Security and other agencies with counter-drug and emergency relief missions.

"We played a large role in the (Hurricane) Katrina disaster," Mr. Clark said. "In virtually any other emergency in the (continental U.S.), we can help out."

At Vandenberg, the Civil Air Patrol conducts range and security support. With a three-person team, one person pilots the plane, which can include a Cessna or GA8 Airvan, while the other two observe out of both the left and right windows of the aircraft. This allows for almost 360 degrees of surveillance.

These capabilities were observed first hand by 30th Space Wing leadership, including Col. Richard Wright, the 30th Mission Support Group commander, and Col. L.C. Coffey III, the 30th Launch Group commander. Since the 30th LCG owns or manages launch processing and launch facilities at both northern and southern extremes of the base, Colonel Coffey said he took advantage of the flight to see from a birds-eye view how each is topographically situated.

"(The Civil Air Patrol) offers us a comprehensive review of resources, especially following an emergency/crisis response," Colonel Coffey said. "Visual comprehension, like pictures, is worth thousands of words, especially when it comes to describing impacts to our spacelift and test launch mission."

For more information on Vandenberg Composite Squadron 101 and the Civil Air Patrol, go to http://gp4.cawg.cap.gov/101/index.html.