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Civil Air Patrol to launch new Riverton unit

Nov 16, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Capt. Karl Falken, a public affairs officer in the U.S. Air Service's Civil Air Patrol, is forming a squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in Riverton.

Falken has been part of the Yellowstone Regional Composite Squadron based out of Cody since he moved to Wyoming from Texas in July. He has been an officer in the Civil Air Patrol for 10 years.

The Civil Air Patrol, a nonprofit volunteer auxiliary, began in 1941 and focuses on aiding in search and rescue missions, as well as promoting aerospace education and providing curricula for local schools.

The organization also runs a cadet program for youths age 12-21.

Falken said the civilian auxiliary "saves 85 lives a year," and around 30,000 cadets come through the program annually.

The Civil Air Patrol has been active in Wyoming since the corporation's infancy. It helped deliver supplies during the Wyoming blizzard of 1949.

More recently, the group provided disaster relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Falken is now looking for recruits. Their first organized activity will be to place wreaths on the graves of veterans at Mountain View Cemetery in December.

The Civil Air Patrol started the "Wreaths Across America" program in 1992. The program currently has 12 associated cemeteries.

During a Riverton City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Lars Baker issued a proclamation declaring Dec. 16 in honor of "Wreaths Across America."

He's also hoping to begin some fundraising and set up scholarships.

Once the squadron increases its membership, Falken said the squadron can begin helping on search-and-rescue flights.

The Civil Air Patrol can be activated by either state officials or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Search-and-rescue missions in Fremont County often focus on people missing in the Wind River Mountains, and Falken said "that is something we could do."

Civil Air Patrol squadrons are typically used locally, but Falken said they go "anywhere that resources are needed."

If the squadron gets large enough and pilots get involved, Falken said the squadron could ultimately get its own plane.

People interested in joining the Riverton squadron can email Falken at kfalken@gmail.com or call him at 856-6654. Membership is open to any American with no criminal background. T

here are also possible waivers for non-U.S. citizens.

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