The Civil Air Patrol Skyhawks Squadron 47 had an active year in the competition arena making its way to the nationals. The community came together, including the Vista Fire Department, to help the Skyhawks 47.
Vista resident Cpt. Mike Hamnquist said he approached Vista fire Chief Jeff Hahn because of an important competition phase. The segment involved an outdoor event where cadets raise and lower the flag on a flagpole, fold it and then present it to a judge.
“They are judging every move that they make from the second that they leave the box, which is the ready area, to the flagpole to the rope handling to the flag handling and the fold and the marching,” he said of the 15-minute event. “Everything that they do there is scrutinized.”
Hamnquist said the Vista Fire Department offered great locations because they have many kinds of poles with different heights, widths and styles such as with ropes on the outside or inside of the poles.
“The fire stations also have done really well for us on that because they allow us to use one of their open bays in the station,” he said. “We were able to set up the flags in different locations in the bay and (had) a lot of different venues to work with.”
Hahn said he was happy to help out the Skyhawks 47 and that their six fire stations had different flagpole setups. He said he was surprised to learn the cadets were also practicing ceremonial flag drills, so they were invited inside to practice their folding techniques.
“I’ve been to many memorials where they fold and present the flag, and it’s a very specific drill that you do in a very specific way,” Hahn said. “Our firefighters welcomed them in — and it was great that Skyhawks 47 made it all the way to the nationals.”
Before the Skyhawks 47 competed in the Nationals in Dayton, Ohio, in July, they competed in Bakersfield in March for the State of California. Next were the Regionals in Reno, Nevada, in May representing the state of California and competing against fellow squadrons from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and Nevada. The Skyhawks 47 secured first place at both competitions.
At the Nationals, the Skyhawks 47 took 10th place from a total of the top16 squadrons in the nation.
Since 2002, Hamnquist said, Skyhawks 47 had won the California wing competition 14 times and the regionals a total of 13 times.
“It’s an amazing reward to watch our cadets come together and perform in 12 different categories,” he said. “The reward for me is to watch them grow, bond and become a team.”
In addition to the outdoor and indoor competition, squadrons have a physical fitness test as well as a written test comprised of 70 questions that they have 70 minutes to complete.
Skyhawks 47 cadets come from Vista, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Temecula and Laguna Nigel. Currently, there are 30 active members.
Its headquarters are located at the Army Reserve Center on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.
The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Hamnquist said.
“We follow exactly what the Air Force does in terms of ranks, protocol and training,” he said. “We aren’t actual service people — we are a 100 percent volunteer organization with three missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.”
Cadets range from 10 to 18 years of age, and the Skyhawks just celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Hamnquist shared how his three sons have been cadets for the Skyhawks. He said it’s a great organization that helps transform youth members into leaders.
“The Civil Air Patrol cadet programs is a pretty incredible opportunity and one of the most hidden gems out there,” he said.