Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol continues to save lives and alleviate human suffering by conducting a variety of operational missions in the area of Emergency Services including Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief, Counterdrug, and Homeland Security. Most of this is done in CAP’s role as the United States Air Force Auxiliary as Defense Support to Civil Authorities, but CAP also provides assistance to State and Local authorities in many cases before there is a defined Federal interest. In order to conduct these missions, there are many programs for both cadets and adult members that provide training and qualification to perform these services. The use of qualified CAP cadets is encouraged as much as possible on appropriate missions. Cadets are trained in the various functions of mission operations and support as permitted. Cadets qualify no differently than adult members in emergency services qualifications.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
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. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Approximately 75-100 people are saved each year by CAP members.
CAP provides air and ground transportation, an extensive communications network, aerial survey and photography for FEMA and manpower on the ground in areas suffering from a disaster. 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.
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 cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.
The Gastonia squadron has participated in a number of missions, including Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Hurricane Florence (2018). Our members served both in the field in conjunction with military units to assist citizens as well as at Mission Base with communications and coordination of aerial reconnaissance.