The mission of the Civil Air
Patrol (CAP) is threefold: Emergency Services (ES), Cadet Programs,
and Aerospace Education. Our squadron concentrates on the area of
Emergency Services. This encompasses Search and Locate (SAL),
aerial reconnaissance and radio relay as well as counterdrug
activities. This is due to the fact that we are a senior squadron
(all adult) and the vast majority of squadron members are pilots.
But you don't have to be a pilot to be a vital part of CAP. Each ES
of three members, the mission pilot, the observer and the scanner.
To be an observer or scanner, you do not have to be a pilot. The
observer and scanner are the primary cargo on each mission. The
mission pilot flies the aircraft while the observer and scanner look
for the target and perform the other duties required on the mission
such as maintaining the flight log. The photograph to the left was
taken by the observer who sits in the right seat next to the pilot.
The observer is usually responsible for radio communications with
base operations, ground teams, and other aircraft. The scanner sits
in the back seat is primarily responsible for spotting and for
maintaining the mission log. The mission log is basically recording
all pertinent data to the mission such as time of take-off, time in
the target area, any latitude and longitude information of potential
targets, time out of target, and wheels down time. The scanner is
also responsible for backstopping the pilot by making sure they know
where they are at all times.
In order to stay proficient at
this activity, the squadron participates in practice Search and
Rescue Exercises (SAREXs) throughout the year. A variety of
different missions are tasked at these exercises. These include
looking for simulated downed aircraft, Emergency Locator Transmitter
(ELT) searches, working with ground teams, damage assessment and
spotting flights, and airborne aerial radio and photographic
relays. Pilots are also encouraged to stay proficient by flying
several hours each month for proficiency covered by Federal employee
We also assisted during times of local,
regional or national crisis. We fly a variety of missions such as
damage assessments after a flood or tornado. We also participated in
the airlift of emergency supplies during the 911 crisis back in
2001. Here are some examples of what we do.
One of our jobs is to fly areas that have
undergone some type of severe weather. We are tasked to do this by
the National Weather Service, FEMA or some other federal, state or
local governmental entity.
Here are some photos taken
during the recent 2004-2005 floods that took place over the holiday
season in Kentucky and Indiana. These photographs were taken and
transmitted via satellite using a CAP system called Satellite
Digital Imaging System (SDIS). The results were sent to the mission
base in Clark County, Indiana with very good results.
Here are some photos taken during the 2004
hurricane aftermath in Florida.
Here are few examples from a tornado that hit
Kentucky in 2004.
CAP provides hands-on and
classroom training on a variety of subjects. These opportunities
are usually listed on the
Kentucky Wing's Website Calendar. There is training for
aircrews and ground personnel on a wide variety of tasks and jobs
undertaken by the CAP. CAP has on-line courses that members take to
increase their knowledge and skills which are located on the
Web Site. CAP members may also take courses through the
United States Air Force's
Institute for Advanced Distributed Learning. Here we see some
images from a mission aircrew school that was held at Bowman Field
in January 2002.
Not only is training done on
the desktop level, it is also done in the air and on the ground in
simulated exercises. Qualified mission personnel are used to
instruct those training for those positions within CAP. So after
the aircrews learned how to do the paperwork side of the mission,
they learned about the aircraft the missions would be performed in
and then took off and flew simulated missions to reinforce what they
had learned in the classroom.
Search and Rescue (SAR)
exercises are held throughout the year on the region, wing and
squadron level. These exercises are invaluable sources of training
for an actual search and rescue mission. Here are some images from
each of these types of SAREXs that squadron members have attended
over the past few years.
Although we are a senior
squadron our pilots, we provide orientation rides for CAP Cadets
that are members of other CAP squadrons throughout the state. The
cadet program is great for America's young people in that it
instills solid values, work ethic, and allows them to participate in
fun activities such as hikes, camping, and the O-rides. Here are
some images of some cadets and the O-rides they have taken. We also
give O-rides to USAF Reserve Offices Training Corp (AFROTC) cadets.
The O-rides are designed to educate the young person about aviation
and to spark an interest that may make them the next generation of
Air Force fliers. Both are allowed to take the controls and see
what it is actually like to pilot an airplane. Smiles are usually
Fly A Teacher (FAT) / Teacher Orientation Program (TOP)
As part of our Aerospace
Education mission the Civil Air Patrol has launched a program called
"Fly A Teacher" or the FAT program. This program programs provides
an orientation flight for teachers who participate and complete an
aerospace training program provided by the CAP. The hope of the
program is that it will energize and educate teachers to help
promote aerospace education and interest in their students. The
program was recently renamed the
TOP program for Teacher Orientation Program. Sounds better than
FAT I guess.
CAP also provides
communication relay services in areas with radio signals do not
carry for extended distances. In these instances, a mission pilot
or mission transport pilot orbits at high altitudes (usually around
10,000 feet) and the observer or scanner relays messages from both
the ground and from other aircraft. Here are some photos taken
during some communications missions.
CAP also assists the Kentucky
Department of Natural Resources/Forest Service in conjunction with
the Kentucky National Guard to assist when forest fires plague the
state as they did a few years ago during the severe drought. Here
are some photos that show CAP participating with the firefighting
mission. CAP flies both communication relay and spotting missions.
These are just some of the
many important missions we fly as members of the Civil Air Patrol.
If need be, we can be called to help in the latest crisis facing our
nation, that of homeland defense. Hence the CAP Motto. Semper
Vigilans! (Always Vigilant!)