Welcome to Montana Wing Communications
Director of Communications
Maj Spencer Gilchrist
Our program covers the entire state of Montana and can reach out to the entire nation in the event of a nationwide or region wide disaster. We provide communications for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) while they complete their daily missions and serve other agencies. Our teams operate primarily at local levels to provide detailed coverage.
There are nearly 2,000 high frequency (HF) automatic link establishment (ALE) radios comprising an entire nationwide network. Our radios can link up to this network in order to provide around the clock coverage, even on the holidays. These radios operate, regardless of terrain, because they use what is known as a skywave. This skywave is transmitted skyward and bounces back down to earth off of the ionosphere. This provides us the ease of not having to worry about terrain blocking our signal.
In Montana we have 4 HF ALE base stations, 7 HF mobile stations, and 4 HF portable field stations. We expect our number of base stations to nearly triple in the next year. We also have a network of very high frequency (VHF) radios that provide more local coverage for our organization to help them accomplish their missions.
All of these members are highly-trained non-paid volunteers and operate when they are needed. That means they will staff radios regardless of the weather conditions (with the exception of lightning storms). To see how these members support your local communities you may continue reading below.
The Montana Wing (MTWG) communications program’s mission is to provide critical communications infrastructure in order for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to carry out it’s three primary missions: aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services; and to support local agencies in their emergency services missions.
Emergency Services Support
The CAP emergency services program provides many services to local agencies. These services include but are not limited to: humanitarian missions, disaster relief, counter drug flights, and search and rescue. The communications program is the critical link to relay information from field teams to the incident command staff. With our, high frequency (HF), automatic link establishment (ALE) radios, we can get communications into areas where traditional communications do not exist. This is a huge tactical advantage especially for a mountainous state such as Montana.
Cadet Programs Support
The cadet program consists of cadets from the age of 12-18 who learn leadership through a series of lessons and practical exercises. They practice their leadership skills using a military model to give them experience. Communications supports this mission by providing them with communications support when they are out camping, marching in a parade, or providing training to bring cadets into the communications program.
Aerospace Education Support
Aerospace education serves two purposes, (1) to teach members about aerospace technology, history and careers, (2) to branch out into the local communities and educate community members in aerospace technologies, history, and careers. All with the main goal of getting people interested in aerospace. One of the opportunities our cadet members have is to get orientation flights in an aircraft. They take control and fly the airplane with a qualified instructor. Our communications program supports this by providing communication support from the ground while the aircraft is in flight. Tracking and maintaining the location of the aircraft for their safety purposes. We also support any other communication need they have and will be willing to provide that.