Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol has continues to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency-services and operational missions.
Search and Rescue
Perhaps best known for its search-and-rescue efforts, CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, FL
Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Just how effective are the CAP missions?
- Conducts 90 % of inland search and rescue in the U.S. as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies.
- Coordinates Air Force-assigned missions through CAP National Operations Center at Maxwell AFB, Ala., at a cost of $120-$160 per flying hour.
- Performs aerial reconnaissance for homeland security.
- Nearly 100 people are saved each year by CAP members.
- Provides disaster-relief support to local, state and national agencies.
- Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when commercial resources are unavailable.
- Provides air intercept training, impact assessment, light transport, communications support and low-level route surveys for the Air Force.
Another important service CAP performs is disaster-relief operations. CAP provides air and ground transportation and an extensive communications network. Volunteer members fly disaster-relief officials to remote locations and provide manpower and leadership to local, state and national disaster-relief organizations.
CAP has formal agreements with many government and humanitarian relief agencies including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.
CAP flies humanitarian missions, usually in support of the Red Cross-transporting time-sensitive medical materials including blood and human tissue, in situations where other means of transportation are not available.
Air Force Support
It’s hardly surprising that CAP performs several missions in direct support of the U.S. Air Force. Specifically, CAP conducts light transport, communications support, and low-altitude route surveys.
CAP also provides orientation flights for AFROTC cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.
CAP joined the “war on drugs” in 1986 when, pursuant to congressional authorization, CAP signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs Service offering CAP resources to help stem the flow of drugs into and within the United States.
Florida CAP noted for natural disasters, SAR
When hurricanes bear down on the Gulf Coast, Florida Wing members are often among the first called to help. During Hurricane Donna in 1960, wing members provided emergency and communication capabilities, flew with the U.S. Coast Guard to survey damage and transported typhoid vaccine. When Hurricane Camille hit nine years later, wing members worked with Civil Defense to establish ground radio networks throughout the Gulf Coast region.
In the 1990s, Florida Wing members sprang into action again for hurricanes Andrew, Opal and Floyd, transporting people and equipment, monitoring evacuation routes and providing aerial damage assessments. Cadets played key roles in setting up and staffing shelters.
Florida Wing cadets also showed their skill by becoming the first Civil Air Patrol team to win the Commander-in-Chief Cup in the All Services Division of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot III, the nation’s largest high school cyber defense competition. CAP members played an early role in helping determine the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, providing more than 28,000 aerial photos to state officials.
The wing’s sundown patrol mission also helped stranded boaters and rescued people from aircraft that plunged into Florida’s waters. In 1995, members helped rescue 11 people in two separate incidents involving boats either lost or sinking in the Gulf of Mexico.