Civil Air Patrol strive to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency services missions – Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief, Homeland Security and Humanitarian Services. CAP, as well as members who fly their own aircraft on these missions, is reimbursed by the Air Force for fuel, oil, and communications expenses. The Air Force also provides maintenance costs for these and certain training missions. CAP maintains a nationwide network of over 20,000 radio stations which provide invaluable backup to state and local civil defense and Air Force communications. On a local level, these stations support state disaster plans and provide communications for CAP search and rescue and other disaster relief missions.
Founded in 1941 to protect homeland security during World War II, CAP’s Emergency Services program remains a vital part of the way America’s Air Force Auxiliary serves the United States. Civil Air Patrol has been a major contributor to our country’s critical Homeland Security efforts. CAP provides aerial reconnaissance, photography, radiological monitoring, disaster and damage assessment, and much, much more. At the request of New York Governor Pataki, on 12 September, 2001, CAP provided the first direct aerial perspective of the World Trade Center disaster site. More than 200 professionally trained CAP volunteers provided homeland security support during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. They flew 534 flying hours, providing airborne reconnaissance of critical infrastructure.
Disaster Relief Efforts
Disaster relief missions involve air surveillance of disaster areas, as well as air evacuation of the stranded, sick and injured. Rescue work and aid are provided during floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and other emergencies.
During the recent Flooding in Southern Missouri the mission base remains at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Missouri. Daily Photo Mission were flown from KMKC at the direction FEMA and SEMA.
Highlights of the mission include:
• Direct support to the Stone County Office of Emergency Management in southwestern Missouri; including flooding information for the city of Branson, Table Rock Lake and Dam.
• Saving over $100,000 worth of livestock through prompt notification of authorities of animals in distress.
• Use of CAP’s unique ARCHER (Airborne Real-time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance) system to evaluate before and after images of the extent of the flooding. ARCHER utilizes an advanced hyperspectral imaging system and panchromatic high-resolution imaging camera to search for specific “spectral signatures” of objects as well as detecting anomalies and changes over time.
• The first operational use of the GIIEP (Geospatial Information Interoperability Exploitation Portable) full-motion video system by the Missouri Wing. GIIEP features self-contained communications equipment and other hardware that allow for real-time and near real-time full-motion video, digital imagery and in-flight chat capability with federal, state and local emergency operations centers. Recently, 1st Air Force presented CAP with five GIIEP’s to use for emergencies nationwide.
“It’s through continued training that our members can respond quickly to natural disasters such as the current flooding that has the potential to affect the entire state,” said Missouri wing commander Col. Erica Williams. “The use of new technology such as the GIIEP system allows us to continue our strong relationship with the National Guard when Missouri needs us.”
“The Civil Air Patrol has provided much needed aerial reconnaissance during this state emergency duty,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. “The Missouri National Guard and Missouri Civil Air Patrol are an example of how joint assets work together to give Missourians the best support possible.”
When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hammered the southern cost of the U.S. in 2005, CAP aircraft, aircrews and ground teams from 14 states swung into action. In the end, more than 1,700 CAP members contributed 35,495 man hours, flew 960 air sorties using 68 CAP aircraft, logged 1,848.6 flight hours, surveyed 4,266 homes and made 8,524 contacts with people affected by the hurricanes.
CAP Mission Training
CAP volunteer members train regularly for air crew, ground team and other mission specialties needed in search and rescue and disaster relief efforts. The past five years, Civil Air Patrol crews were involved in more than 5,500 search and rescue or other emergency services missions.
In this same period, members were credited with having saved more than 425 lives and locating objects of their search nearly 2,500 times. These missions required more than 92,000 hours of flying time along with many more thousands of hours of ground team search activities by cadet and senior members. CAP owns the largest civilian fleet of Cessnas in the world, over 500. Single engine, high-wing aircraft are ideal for the low altitude searches CAP often conducts. In addition to air search missions, members also aid in transport of blood, donor organs and medications.