A look inside a training mission at the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport.
Lt. Col. Larry Fernald has been flying airplanes for almost 50 years.
He achieved almost 1,000 hours of combat as an Air Force pilot in Vietnam, and after 20 years serving in the military, went on to work as a commercial airline pilot for another 17. Then, due to his desire to keep serving and his love of flying, he joined the Civil Air Patrol.
“It’s fun," Fernald said. "It’s exhilarating. It’s still a challenge. Every flight you learn something — you ought to.”
Fernald is one of the 69 volunteers that participated in the training mission out of the 3,359 in Civil Air Patrol's Florida Wing. According to a press release, for the last week, they have been supporting the 164th Air Defense Brigade in a training exercise where Civil Air Patrol provided aircraft and support staff out of the squadron location at the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport.
The training mission, called Exercise America's Shield, prepares the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade for upcoming mobilizations in support of Operations Atlantic Resolve and Noble Eagle, the press release states. This helps to prepare the Short Range Air Defense teams against possible threats.
The point of the mission was to train personnel in air defense artillery operations and to exercise homeland defense operations, information passing and coordination, as well as examine its surveillance system radar and radio coverage, among other functions.
Fernald said the Civil Air Patrol serves three basic functions: Search and rescue, hosting cadet programs and providing aerospace education. Personally, he's trained about seven cadets, two of which went on to the Air Force Academy. Both the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force have a great need for pilots, he said.
All the volunteers in his squadron serve in the Civil Air Patrol for love of service and love of flying, he said. Many of them retired from the Air Force or Coast Guard, but still wanted to serve. They wanted to keep contributing to the nation.
“This is a way to do all of that," Fernald said.
This story was updated at 8:50 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, to reflect that there are 3,359 volunteers in the Florida Wing.