Since 1981, Marco Islanders have had guardian angels flying the skies around our shores and south of the island. Those angels would keep an eye out for stranded boaters, downed aircraft and potential human and drug traffickers. They do so as volunteers, with a love for aviation and their commitment to the citizens of Southwest Florida.
Those dedicated volunteers belong to Marco Island Senior Squadron (SER-FL-376) of the Civil Air Patrol, which is housed at the Marco Island Executive Airport. The Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
On Sunday, September 10th, 2017, Hurricane Irma battered Southwest Florida, and the hangar which housed the CAP aircraft was partially destroyed, leaving only the operations center of the facility intact with repairable damage.
“We were devastated with what we saw when we arrived,” said Robert Corriveau, the Commander of the Marco Island Senior Squadron at the time. Since then they have been working diligently to secure funding to rebuild the facility at the Marco Executive Airport.
“The building collapsed inward 50 feet like an accordion, popping out the sides and collapsing the roof into the hangar section of the building,” said Robert Boone, who serves as the present-day Commander of the Squadron.
In preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, the Squadron’s aircraft, a Cessna 182T, was evacuated out of the danger zone to the Daytona area.
On Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, members of that Squadron participated in a symbolic groundbreaking to begin the process of rebuilding that vital hangar facility, 26 months after the impact of Hurricane Irma.
The hangar itself, which was built 16 years ago, was done as a result of a fundraising effort that was run by the late longtime aviation enthusiast Monte Lazarus, who was a member of the Wing for many years and a retired United Airlines Executive.
Compass Construction of Cape Coral, Florida was the successful bidder for the reconstruction of the hangar area of the CAP facility at a cost of $429,000. The project itself will be funded through a 90% FEMA Grant, leaving approximately $50,000 to be raised by the local CAP contingent.
“I’m not sure words can adequately express our gratitude for the assistance and professional support that we have received throughout this process from FEMA,” said Commander Boone as he reflected on the long process which has brought them to this point.
Through the efforts of the Marco Island Airport Authority, a temporary hangar facility had been secured to allow the group to continue to provide overwatch of local waters to keep mariners safe and provide assistance to other first-responders.
It is now up to the local group to raise the last $50,000 to complete their vision for the new home for their aircraft. Donations are currently being accepted by the Squadron and can be sent to Marco Island Civil Air Patrol, P.O. Box 225, Marco Island, FL 34146. Please make a notation of CAP Donation on your check. The Civil Air Patrol is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.