Sunday, June 15, 2014

New Hampshire Civil Air Patrol celebrates 70th anniversary of first Wing Maneuvers

In July 1944, the New Hampshire Civil Air Patrol held its first Wing Maneuvers at the Laconia airport, while World War II was well under way in Europe.

Henry Munroe of Pembroke was a 17-year-old cadet in the patrol then. Today, he’ll speak at the 70th anniversary celebration for the first Wing Maneuvers as part of the Laconia Municipal Airport’s open house.

Col. Bill Moran, New Hampshire Wing Commander for the CAP, said today’s celebration will re-create a spot landing competition that was part of the 1944 event. Wings are units within the CAP, and their maneuvers include flying drills and showcasing their aviation techniques.

“We’ll have one aircraft from each wing, and the wings are from New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” he said. “The teams will compete to land their aircraft closest to a certain point on the runway.”

The CAP has 300 senior members and 300 cadets between the ages of 12 and 21, Moran said. As a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization, it provides emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. The other side of their duty is to act as an auxiliary for the U.S. Air Force if they’re involved with a project with federal interest.

“When we flew taking aerial photos for superstorm Sandy, that was a federal interest, so we were acting as the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force,” Moran said. “When we fly fire patrol for New Hampshire (Division of) Forest and Lands, we’re flying as a nonprofit.”

Munroe, 87, will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for his CAP volunteer service during World War II and will speak during the opening ceremonies.

“I think it’s marvelous that they’re doing this, and I think it’s good for the kids these days,” he said. “Our generation was just waiting to go to war at this time 70 years ago.”

Munroe said he served with the CAP unit from 1942 to 1944 and went on to serve as a military policeman during World War II.

The free open house event at the Laconia airport will feature food, interactive demonstrations and simulators, and displays of cars, planes, helicopters, motorcycles, boats and World War II vehicles from the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro.

The celebration starts at 10 a.m., and the first takeoff for the Wing Maneuvers Spot Landing competition will be at noon. The airport is located at 65 Aviation Way in Gilford, and the open house will last until 2 p.m. 


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