By Leonora Willett EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BIG SKY— For the second year in a row the Gallatin Composite Squadron of the Montana Civil Air Patrol volunteered at the Big Sky PBR and received funding from the 50/50 raffle. The winner of this year’s 50/50 raffle donated their portion of the raffle back to the air patrol, totaling $3,380 from Thursday night.
At the 10th annual PBR in Big Sky last summer, the air patrol received $1,050 from the 50/50 raffle, as well as an additional $2,000 donation from Outlaw Partners for outstanding volunteerism. The money from last year’s event went into buying a trailer which serves as a mobile communication center as well as a storage unit. The trailer was at PBR this year, providing much needed space for event supplies such as tents and tables.
The trailer is equipped with two, 250-watt solar panels, radios, computers for flight simulations and high frequency antennas capable of communicating across state lines as well. In addition, the trailer has charging stations for drones and satellite tracking devices.
Funding from this year’s 50/50 raffle will go to three areas of the civil air patrol: cadet programs, aerospace education and emergency services. Funding for emergency services will go towards training equipment and continuing to outfit their new trailer. Cadet program funding will go to buying uniform supplies and continuing the program. Aerospace education funding will go to purchasing drones and RC planes.
“[Cadets] are excited about aerospace sciences, whether they want to go into a career in the military or they want to go into a career in private industry, they all want to go do something really neat,” said Capt. Austin Troth. “They’re really energized and motivated.”
Troth, from Bozeman, has been with the Montana Civil Air Patrol for the past 18 years. “My primary enjoyment of Civil Air Patrol is working with young people and teaching leadership and watching them develop as young adults,” he said.
Along with search and rescue operations and training, cadets with the air patrol also participate in rocket training, flight training as well as a week-long encampment. The organization is involved with volunteer programs around the community.
“We try to get the cadets as well as our members out in helping out for a variety of events,” Troth said. In addition to PBR in Big Sky, the air patrol helps at the Polar Plunge put on by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office as well as other events.
Troth said his favorite part of the air patrol is the week-long encampment the cadets participate in. “You see cadets really come out of it with a sense of pride and a sense of understanding of why excellence, our core value, is important, and why integrity is important,” he said.
The Montana CAP played a vital role in survey and rescue missions in June after flooding devastated Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas. The squadron flew 21 sorties and helped save 88 lives, as well as captured photographs and video surveillance footage of damaged areas according to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.