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8 Things You Don't Know About the Civil Air Patrol

8 Things YOU Don't Know About The Civil Air Patrol

  1. Disaster Response

CAP is flying more than 100,000 hours by year nationwide. Why? Hurricanes that batter Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  Fires across California. Nor’easters along our North Eastern states.

CAP’s fleet of 560 aircraft completed dozens of disaster relief missions and other federal, state and local agency support missions across the country last year, ranging from the massive rainfall that accompanied Hurricanes to incredible fire damage.  

While CAP, the long-time all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is assigned missions by the Air Force, many of those missions — especially disaster relief — are requested by other federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  1. Escorting Drones

Among those common place missions are homeland security missions, which included more than 600 MQ-9 remote piloted aircraft escort flights in support of the Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing in the 2017 fiscal year.

As part of the U.S. Air Force Reaper training program for pilots and sensor operators, CAP aircrews accompanied MQ-9 Reapers to and from Military Restricted Airspace in central New York state for training exercises. This support helped save taxpayers over $1 million and has increased MQ-9 training by 25%.  

  1. Using Drones

Besides escorting drones, CAP is also starting to use drones to replace some of its manned flying missions.  CAP is also assisting the USAF in a specialized mission using drones.

Using unmanned aerial vehicles to collect disaster imagery for when we can’t fly.  There are times that the cloud deck’s too low. We have ground people who can actually use UAVs to collect some of that imagery fairly quickly.

  1. Intercept

CAP works with the Air Force in air defense intercept training.  CAP crews help the Air Force train their crews that actually have to do intercepts on aircraft who enter restricted air space.  Before Sept. 11, 2001, CAP would do about a dozen of these intercept training missions a year. In fiscal year 2016, CAP did more than 200 of those missions, which included 700 sorties.

  1. $1 Billion in Drugs

CAP also provides counter drug and border mission support on a regular basis to Customs and Border Protection and the agencies supporting counter drug efforts.

  1. Search and Rescue

The missions that CAP might be most well-known for are Search and Rescue operations. In fiscal 2017, we flew 1,812 search and rescue sorties. That’s up a bit from the 1,741 in fiscal 2016.

Search and Rescue for CAP is more than just aviation searches.  We get involved in a lot of missing person searches as well. Probably about 10% to 15% of our Search and Rescue missions are missing person related.”

A critical part of those operations are a team of volunteers who help with cell phone forensics. In fiscal year 2017, CAP had 110 saves credited across the country, with 100 having cell forensic support.

  1. Incidents and Accidents

Flying more than 100,000 hours a year — which translated to 83,608 sorties in fiscal year 2017 — there are bound to be incidents. Thankfully there were no major accidents in 2017, while there was one fatal accident in 2016.  CAP has have a much lower accident rate than general aviation.

CAP is always trying to protect its resources — its volunteers and aircraft.

  1. CAP Pilots

Perhaps the biggest surprise to those not in the know are who CAP pilots are. About half of our pilots actually are commercial or ATPs who are current airline pilots. And while about half of the CAP pilots are former military, many of them weren’t pilots in the military.

Another misconception is that there’s no more room for private pilots to volunteer. Pilots need about 200 hours PIC to be able to start flying missions. Once involved in CAP, the volunteer pilots are encouraged to continue their training.


This page derived from information published by General Aviation News "10 things you don't know about the Civil Air Patrol by Janice Wood, December 3, 2017

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