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The Civil Air Patrol's Mission's

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.

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 flight is The downed aircraft is in the center of the picture with a yellow ring around it.comprised 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 insurance. 

Emergency Services

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.

Damage Assessment

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.

Here we see some of the damaged caused by a tornado that struck Harrodsburg, Kentucky in the summer of 2003.







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 CAP National 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.

Particapants learned about map interpretation.Flight planning and how to find the mission target area was also a focus of the class.Even the Kentucky Wing commander is brushing up on her aircrew knowledge!

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.

Students were taught about the systems of CAP aircraft.Here we see some CAP members loading up the C-182 in preparation for their flight.Checking for proper movement of the ailerons was also emphasized.

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.

On this mission, the dam at Taylorsville Lake was being assessed after a fictious earthquake.Taken over the Tennessee River in Western Kentucky, CAP prepares for the day the New Madrid Fault decides to "shake things up."  Bridges will be one of the first targets for CAP airplanes so that emergency teams will know which routes West are open to allow them to provide relief.Power plants could also be determined to be intact or not after some catastrophic event.

Cadet Orientation Flights (O-rides)

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 the norm.

Two CAP cadets after their first O-ride.  It would appear they enjoyed themselves.Here we see a CAP cadet at the controls of a CAP aircraft, supervised by a qualified Mission/Cadet O-ride pilot.Here are a couple of AFROTC cadets who also appear to have enjoyed their flights as well.

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.

Teacher Sue Inman after her orientation flight in Louisville, Kentucky. Teacher Melissa Owens takes the controls during her orientation flight. Teachers Jolene Martin and Robin Risner after their FAT flights in Bowling Green. Yes Robin is the daughter of famous USAF fighter ace Robinson (Robbie) Risner.

Communications Links

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.

Looking down from 10,000 feet.It is beautiful flying "Highbird" as you are usually above the clouds.Sometimes you can't outclimb the clouds and have to drop under them, unless you are an instrument pilot.

Forest Fire Fighting

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.

Kentucky National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter taking on fuel during a firefighting mission.  The orange bucket on the left is used to scoop water out of lakes and rivers, and then dumping it on the fires.A ridge burning out of control.The smoke from the fires created a broad haze that covered a good portion of Eastern Kentucky.

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!)


(Page revised on 29-Jan-16)