Civil Air Patrol History
The Civil Air Patrol was founded in December, 1941, at a time of national crisis, mobilizing civilian volunteers to defend the nation as in no time since the American Revolution. No wonder they were called "Flying Minutemen."
The story continues through the Cold War to more recent times in the same spirit of the CAP sub chasers of WWII. Click here for more on the overall history of Civil Air Patrol.
186th (formally Charles K. Hamilton) Composite Squadron History
The Southington/Plainville-based 186th Composite Squadron is under the command of Captain Eric Pearson. Today, the squadron is made up of approximately 40 members and meets on Tuesday evenings at the Robertson Airport, 62 Johnson Avenue, Plainville CT.
The first Civil Air Patrol Squadron in Connecticut was formed in Meriden on December 31, 1941. While members from the Plainville area served in Civil Air Patrol during World War II, the Plainville Senior Squadron was formed by Plainville residents in 1953. The first squadron commander was Mike Eustice.
The squadron met at Robertson Airport where Mr. Robertson, owner of the airport graciously gave the squadron two buildings to use and allowed members to house their aircraft on the field at no charge. In return, squadron members lent a hand whenever needed at the Airport.
The squadron formed special rescue teams similar to the present day "Lifestar" that operates out of Hartford Hospital. Mission aircraft would locate the crash site, and if needed, doctors, nurses and medical supplies were flown in. Ground team members began special training. Accident victims were carried out by ground teams since local towns did not have their own rescue teams or volunteer ambulances.
Around 1965, George LaPlante of Bristol started a new cadet squadron in Bristol. Later that year, the Plainville Squadron organized another squadron in New Britain. That year, the Plainville Squadron hosted the first air show at Robertson Airport.
In the 1960s, the squadron's name was changed to the Plainville Cadet Squadron and moved off the airport grounds for meetings.
In the 1970s, the squadron assisted with disaster relief operations in Plainville. Members manned the Civil Defense Communication Center and assisted police with local traffic control, directing traffic away from flooded areas. From 1970 to 1986, the squadron met in the Civil Defense shelter in the basement of Plainville Junior High School on Route 10.
In 1975, some members of the disbanded Torrington Squadron transferred to the Bristol Squadron. The Plainville squadron took on members from the former Willimantic, Watertown and New Britain squadrons, which also disbanded during the mid-70s.
In 1978, the Plainville Cadet Squadron won the drill competition at Wing level and subsequently represented Connecticut Wing at the Northeast Region Drill Competition. SGM Ed Murtha, an Army Reserve Drill Sergeant from the 76th Training Divison (USAR) gave much of his valuable, personal time to training the squadron for this competition. (This information from SGM Pete Markow, a former cadet in the Plainville Cadet Squadron.) In the early 1980s, the Bristol Cadet Squadron merged temporarily with the Plainville Squadron, although once able to recruit new members the Bristol Squadron reformed.
The Plainville Cadet Squadron earned "Outstanding Squadron of the Year" honors for the Connecticut Wing in 1981. A year later, Howard Palmer, former commander of the Bristol Squadron, became Connecticut Wing Commander.
On June 27, 1983, the Town of Plainville celebrated Civil Air Patrol Day honoring the local squadron for its outstanding service over the years, and in recognition of former members who had passed away. Shortly thereafter, the Plainville Cadet Squadron was renamed the Charles K. Hamilton Composite Squadron in honor of a leading pioneer aviator.
In 1985, the Bristol Composite Squadron merged with the Charles K. Hamilton Squadron. That year squadron members spent many hours assisting the American Red Cross during Hurricane Gloria Damage Control.
In 1995, the unit was honored as the "Squadron of the Year" by the Connecticut Wing.
During the 1995 storm, the Plainville squadron went into operation. A squadron generator powered radio station WBIS in Bristol throughout the emergency. Members assisted local towns as needed.
Immediately after the tragic events of 9/11, CKH Squadron members sprang into action. One of our pilots flew emergency blood supplies to New York while another remained on stand-by. Several other squadron members helped man the Connecticut Wing's Communication center.
With the size of the squadron nearly doubling to 40 members, the CKH (186th) Composite Squadron received outstanding Squadron honors at the Connecticut Wing's Annual Conference in April, 2002. The squadron also earned a number of individual awards including Staff Administrative Officer (LTC Cassandra Huchko), Cadet Leader (1LT Jack Brophy), Safety Officer (LTC. Carroll Rogers III) and Senior Member-of-The-Year (1LT Gerald Sledge).
In recent years, the squadron has resumed flying orientation flights for cadets. Additionally, the squadron provides a full schedule of leadership, aerospace education, emergency services training for Cadets and Senior Members.
Squadron members currently support a variety of community events including Balloons Over Plainville and the annual Klingberg Family Centers Car Show.