A program combining the resources of the U.S. Air Force's ROTC and Civil Air Patrol has landed in Utah, offering college-age cadets an opportunity to fly with experienced search-and-rescue volunteers.

During the next six months, 35 students from University of Utah and Brigham Young University will spend eight hours in CAP airplanes - four hours in each the front and back seats as an observer.Participants will train toward official observer classification and, when certified, may offer their skills during regular search-and-rescue missions. The ROTC cadets have also formed their own CAP squadron, based at the U.

Brig. Gen. James D. Latham, commandant of the Air Force ROTC, was scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake City Tuesday. During afternoon ceremonies, Latham will honor the U.'s ROTC cadet corps for winning the national 1993 Operation Standard Bearer competition. Inaugural ceremonies are scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. to charter the new U.-based CAP squadron.

The U./BYU arm of the project is one of 11 project sites nationwide and one of five university partnerships. Other participating institutions include Texas A&M, the Citadel in South Carolina and Tulane University in New Orleans.

The project is designed to promote interest in aviation and is a recruiting tool for both ROTC and CAP. The flying program also offers continuity between the CAP's junior cadet program, ROTC for college-age participants and the CAP regular membership.

"This is a symbiotic type of thing," said Maj. Scott Hill, professor of aerospace studies at the U. and commander of the U. Air Force ROTC. Hill said he filled the 35 available slots in five minutes.

Officials say they are banking on the flight program to counter stagnant membership in both organizations.

ROTC may be suffering from the false belief that recent nationwide defense cuts translate into little need to promote military recruitment, Hill said. In turn, CAP has strong representation from seasoned members but little participation from young aviation enthusiasts, said Air Force Maj. Rick Manning, liaison officer for the Utah WING of the CAP.

"As we're shrinking, we're looking for more ways to get bigger bang for our buck," Manning said.