Labor Day marks the last summer holiday where work turns to play.
Lake Havasu is a busy destination for travelers looking to cool down from the summer scorch.
When on the water, boaters could be unaware there is always someone watching over their safety. Partnering with the Lake Havasu Sherriff’s department, a group of volunteers from Civil Air Patrol are the eyes in the sky this holiday weekend.
C.A.P. is a national nonprofit auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Founded in 1941, the mission of C.A.P. is trifold: 1. Raise an awareness in aerospace education; 2. Provide a successful cadet program; and 3. Assist in emergency services.
Many senior members of the program are veterans, retired public service members, educators, mentors — all volunteer their time. The cadets are young adults ranging from 12 to 21 years old. Eager to learn by responsibility, grow through education, and give back with moral leadership and camaraderie.
Cadet Joseph Roehrick, 14, explains, “People my age are doing incredible things like surveying the lake.”
“I joined for the technology aspect,” adds Cadet Charlotte Upshaw, 13, “Right now, I am training on radio operations.”
This weekend, the team’s Operation Exercise (OPEX) was to join forces with the Sherriff’s Department to fly over concentrated areas of the lake (Bridgewater Channel, Topock Gorge, the “Sandbar”) to survey for any water vehicles in distress. The ground team also ran radio operations with log, flight monitoring systems and contact lines with the Sheriff’s department.
“We do this to serve the community and save people’s lives,” explained Lt. Col Larry Kendrick, Emergency Services Officer.
The backseat of an airborne Cessna 180 provides a different view of Lake Havasu City. The cuts of the roaring Colorado River have carved zig-zags into the mountains of the Topock Gorge, leaving endless coves for exploration. The deep blue-greens of the lake are shallowed by the raised sands of the Sandbar decorated with boats.
The C.A.P. team in the soaring red, white and blue planes are diligently looking for any indication of distress.
Mike McCain, a pilot of 26 years, advises to those who wish to fly, “Just do it. If you can drive a stick shift car, you can fly a plane.”
Randall “Mac” Mcarthur Belcher II explains, “It is amazing the amount of positions people can join and be properly trained to do.” These areas include medical, technology, engineering and on-ground/in-flight search and rescue.
London Bridge Composite Squadron 501 currently has 14 active cadets who meet every Tuesday at the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Led by Major Rey De Leon, London Bridge Composite squadron commander, meetings are open to the public and anyone interested is encouraged to stop in.
For more information, please contact http://caplhc.webstarts.com/about_cap.html.
Feature Photo: A view of the Bridge Water Channel from the air on Labor Day Weekend. Grace Usher/RiverScene