Dominic Sangregorio says Johnstown’s new Civil Air Patrol squadron is preparing him to launch a career in the Air Force.
“I’ve learned a lot that can help toward joining the military,” Sangregorio said at a recent squadron meeting. “I’ll be a step ahead of the game, which is something I think the Civil Air Patrol does very well.”
An auxiliary of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol was founded during World War II to organize civilian pilots and aviation resources in support of the war effort. Its 60,000 volunteers continue the patriotic heritage as a leading public service organization specializing in land- and air-based emergency services and search-and-rescue operations.
Its Cadet program is structured around leadership, aerospace studies, fitness and character. Its curriculum, advancement and recognition features are designed to develop future leaders.
Last week’s meeting of the 258th Composite Squadron included instruction on search and rescue protocols, military-style marching drills and a science, technology, engineering and mathematics project in robotics.
“This connects them with many different avenues they can go in life,” said Juliann Hart, an Air Force Reservist and deputy commander of the Johnstown CAP squadron.
“Civil Air Patrol helps kids find their way to become good, productive citizens.”
The Johnstown squadron meets every Tuesday evening at the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron facility on Airport Road in Richland Township.
It was officially chartered in December after several months of preparation. There are currently eight cadets and 12 adults, who are known as senior members.
Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority member Philip Brezovic spearheaded the process, which was launched with an information meeting in June.
“The Civil Air Patrol brings in young people and gets them involved in an organization that supports the Air Force,” Brezovic said. “It gives them discipline to focus on what they want to do with their lives in the world of aviation.”
If the squadron continues to grow, it can get its own plane to be based at the airport. While another occupied hangar will bring more rental income to the airport, the CAP presence has additional benefits, authority member Rick McQuaide said.
“In the event a plane got lost or went down, it’s nice to know we have the CAP to assist in finding that aircraft,” McQuaide said. “It helps from a safety standpoint.”
The authority has been working to bring more public attention to the facilities and programs available at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Brezovic said. The new squadron is part of that effort.
“It’s a matter of getting more people involved in the airport,” Brezovic said.
Information about getting involved in the new squadron is available online at gocivilairpatrol.com.