Civil Air Patrol

La Crosse Squadron members pinch-hit for Minnesota unit

Photo by Maj Todd Mandel - Cadet Airman Andrew Zittlow locates pieces of a "missing parachute" during a ground sortie.

Photo by Maj Todd Mandel – Cadet Airman Andrew Zittlow locates pieces of a “missing parachute” during a ground sortie.

Bay City, Wis. – While the Packers and Vikings may create quite a rivalry between the states, the past weekend saw members from the two wings working together to help carry out the 28th annual BlackCAP Emergency Services College.  For the first time in the school’s history it was led by Wisconsin Wing members.  Major Todd Mandel served as the school’s Director and Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Michael Ebert served as Cadet Commander.  In total, 18 La Crosse Composite Squadron members attended.

The event, hosted by the Red Wing Composite Squadron, provides basic and advanced emergency services training to members every year in a fun and fast-paced environment.  This year was no different as more than 120 CAP members representing four CAP wings and three regions converged on the Red Wing airport which is located in Bay City, Wisconsin. 

During the three days of training members completed an extensive list of ground team tasks and participated in a number of ground sorties.  At times the training flights were given notice of an upcoming sortie, and other times a “mission” was sprung on the students with no notice.  Each year BlackCAP adapts its training to meet student needs which meant this year had an “advanced training flight” as well as a senior member flight. 

Besides being an emergency services school, BlackCAP is perhaps better known for its fellowship and fun.  After training concluded on Saturday the flights spent the evening in the annual “Polecat Competition” where flights competed against one another in feats of skill such as Pick-Up Sticks, the Human Knot, and the annual frog jumping competition.  All BlackCAP attendees are issued a plastic frog, a long-held school custom, and use this frog in the jumping competition. 

The highlight of the games was the “Dancing with the Stars: BlackCAP edition”.  Members from each flight participated in a polka dance-off as they danced to the “Green Bay Packer Polka” much to the delight of Wisconsin members and to the chagrin of the other 100+ Minnesota members in attendance.  The Polecat Competition victors hailed from “Geezer Flight”, a flight comprised completely of senior members and advanced cadet officers.

The weekend concluded with an innovative drill competition and a pass-in-review, all of which are created and mastered within the 60 hours that the school operates.  Foxtrot Flight earned the Honor Flight award with La Crosse Squadron member Cadet Staff Sergeant Maggie Weber serving as Flight Sergeant.  This BlackCAP was the eleventh for Major Todd Mandel, a former Red Wing Composite Squadron member, “BlackCAP is great for learning how to mix fun and learning together, and when the right time is for one or the other.”

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