Austin Police Air Unit Visits Local Cadets

Written by Civil Air Patrol     April 5th, 2016

Cadets from the David Lee "Tex" Hill Composite Squadron listen as officers with the Austin Police Department Air Support Unit describe their job and their aircraft. (Photo by Maj. Matthew Congrove)

San Marcos, Texas — A group of young aviation enthusiasts received a special visit today from the Austin Police Department's Air Support Unit. Three APD officers dropped by the weekly Civil Air Patrol meeting in San Marcos, arriving by Air 1, the newest of three helicopters in the APD fleet.

Senior Police Officers Tom Lopatowski, Kurt Wernicke, and Shane Kirk answered dozens of questions from the cadets. Topics included how the officers became involved in the air unit, what a typical duty day is like, the challenges they face as both police officers and an aircrew, and about various features of the Airbus AS350 helicopter.

"We're really glad the Air 1 crew flew down here for this," said Major Matthew Congrove, commander of the CAP squadron. "They do a lot not only for Austin, but the entire Central Texas region, and they perform services beyond what most other police aviation units do."

The APD air unit, in addition to performing typical law enforcement duties, also helps with fire suppression and disaster relief. "The work they've done during the flooding in the region crosses paths with the work we've done, so it's great to see and hear how other agencies handle the same scenarios," added Maj. Congrove.

At the end of the question and answer forum, the cadets each had a chance to peak into the cockpit and see the different technologies in use.

When it was all over and Air 1 departed, the helicopter performed a quick fly-over while blaring the siren and showing off the thirty million candlepower searchlight, to the delight of the cadets.

About Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force's Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol's 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.


Contact Information

Lt. Col. Ron Diana, CAP
Squadron Commander & Public Affairs Officer
David Lee "Tex" Hill Composite Squadron, SWR-TX-435, Texas Wing
(512) 710-8435 |

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