Civil Air Patrol cadets from all across the state will brave frigid temperatures at next weekend’s Winter School training weekend, held at Camp Seph Mack in Penn Run.
The Civil Air Patrol is a federally-supported nonprofit serving as the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Each county in the Pennsylvania wing of the Civil Air Patrol has at least one squadron ready for emergencies, including disaster relief and search and rescue missions.
On Saturday and Sunday, when temperatures will barely reach the 30s, cadets will undergo basic training and more advanced courses in winter search and rescue.
The Civil Air Patrol trains cadets in orienteering, radio procedures, and tracking aircraft’s emergency locator transmitters. Typically the winter school is held at Somerset Airport, but the training will be done this year at the Boy Scout camp on Ray Road. About 200 students ages 12 to 18 and 50 staff members will be at the winter school, said Cadet Grant Imbarlina, public affairs officer for Armstrong County’s unit.
“FEMA uses us for site security, missing hunters or missing persons,” Imbarlina said. “In this part of the state, we get called out commonly for missing persons. Due to how thick the woods are and how many hunters there are in this part of the state, that’s typically what we get called out for.”
Indiana County’s unit of the Civil Air Patrol, which operates out of Jimmy Stewart Airport, was called to Kiski last year when a man was missing for a few days. In July, the unit was called when an ultralight glider crashed, Imbarlina said.