Everyday Hero: Kids, adults can give back by volunteering with the Civil Air Patrol
Posted June 11
Editor's Note: Go Ask Mom features local parents, usually moms, every single Monday. But, in June, to honor dads around Father's Day, we feature local dads. Greg Burton of New Life Camp was our first featured dad. Today, meet Chris Bailey.
Aviation has been a lifelong passion for Chris Bailey. That's one reason why, for the past dozen years, he's volunteered with the Civil Air Patrol, helping with search and rescue missions and official military training.
The Civil Air Patrol was created in 1941 to protect the nation's shoreline during World War II. Today, 56,000 men, women and children are members, helping during disasters and providing other aid to the military and those in need. At the same time, the group builds awareness about aviation and fields such as aerospace and STEM education, according to its website. Kids as young as 12 can get involved.
In North Carolina, there are squadrons across the state. I checked in with Bailey to learn more about his involvement in the group. Bailey is a Raleigh father of a three-year-old boy, whose day job is search and rescue coordinator for N.C. Emergency Management. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: Why did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol?
Chris Bailey: I got involved in Civil Air Patrol when I was 19 years old and a student at East Carolina University. I am extremely passionate about aviation and wanted to help mentor youth.
GAM: For those who are just now hearing about the Civil Air Patrol, what's it all about? What do you do?
CB: Civil Air Patrol is about volunteers giving back and providing service to their community. All of the members have a different background - from teachers to professional pilots to chaplains. Each member has a purpose in the organization. Members joining have so many different avenues that they can choose from to get involved in. Some members join to fly airplanes and support search and rescue. Other members get in to support the cadet program and help to mentor our youth to become better leaders. Everyone has their own reason for joining. What makes Civil Air Patrol so great is that it allows you to share the things you are passionate about with others.
I currently serve as the director of operations for the North Carolina Wing. My primary responsibility is the oversight of the operational parts of the organization. One of my main missions is the management of our 16 aircraft and supporting the needs of not only the local units, but also outside agency requests.
GAM: What kind of missions have you been involved in over the years? Has there been one or two that have been really memorable?
CB: I have been pretty lucky in my past 12 years. I have been on a wide variety of missions from actual search and rescue missions, looking for downed aircraft, to supporting the United States Air Force intercept trainings.
One of the most memorable ones I was privileged enough to be a part of was an operation run out of the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, N.C. The mission was to support the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Defense and the United States Marine Corps with conducting flight tests of the Unmanned Aerial System “Shadow."
Civil Air Patrol was tasked with supporting the mission by rendezvousing with the aircraft and then flying chase with the aircraft throughout the series of test that it had to performed. It was a two-week mission. I was able to command members from both North Carolina and South Carolina Wings, who were the reason that this mission was a success. Civil Air Patrol Volunteer magazine wrote more about the exercises in its January-March 2014 issue.
GAM: Your son might be a little young, but kids can get involved in the CAP. What programs are there for kids and teens?
CB: Youth can get involved in CAP starting at 12 years old. I didn’t know about CAP when I was 12 or I would have gotten involved. There are so many opportunities offered to our youth through CAP. Cadets have an opportunity to fly (yes, fly in the front seat with hands on the controls) both powered and unpowered (glider) aircraft.
Cadets have opportunities to participate in model rocketry; search and rescue (both training and actual); National Cadet Special Activities (Flight Academy’s, STEM, AF Training Activities, Leadership Schools etc.); and the list goes on. I have seen firsthand CAP take a 12-year-old kid, who was shy and reserved, and mold and mentor him into becoming a great leader. There is nothing I love more than to watch a young boy or girl be transformed into a young man or woman as a result of the programs that CAP offers. There's more information about opportunities for youth on the North Carolina Wing's website.
GAM: What's the most rewarding thing about participating in the Civil Air Patrol?
CB: The most rewarding part of the organization to me is giving back to the community and working with some of the best group of people. All of the members are volunteers and I believe we all have that same since of pride in wanting to give back. This is our way to do just that.
Go Ask Mom features local parents every Monday.