By Jeff Stahl Lt. Col., CAP K4BH
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It is an integral part of the USAF total force. Established on December 1, 1941 CAP has provided service to our community, state, and nation for over 78 years.
CAP members are volunteers who train in the three mission areas of CAP, which are emergency services (ES), aerospace education (AE), and the Cadet program.
ES includes coordinated air/ground search, electronic direction finding (both air and ground), radio communications and other major disaster related relief skills.
AE includes both internal and external programs. Internal AE involves learning about technical aeronautical issues and socioeconomic impact of aeronautical related events and practices. Cadets may participate in a model rocketry program where they build and fly three model rockets. External AE involves educating the general public about aeronautical issues and their socioeconomic impact. Often working with the school system to reach as many young people as possible.
The Cadet Program is for youths 12 – 18 years old. It has several facets in it including character development, physical fitness, followership and leadership training, and public speaking and writing. Community service is emphasized throughout the cadet curriculum. Cadets who enter CAP prior to their 18th birthday may remain in the Cadet Program until they reach 21 years of age. At that time they may choose to become senior members or leave the program.
Senior members manage all levels of CAP service. Mission participation is as much a part of the Senior program as the Cadet Program. Air crews must be 18 years old or older. Major missions are run under the Incident Command System (ICS) using trained CAP incident commanders.
All senior members participate in at least one area of specialization, which represents a skill set or job function they are trained to do. Many missions are to locate Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) or Emergency Position Indicating Reporting Beacon (EPIRB) unit that have been heard and reported to the FAA and/or the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC). This skill translates well into Amateur Radio Service “fox hunting.”
CAP has provided disaster related services for hurricanes and for the Deep Water Horizon incident. Some CAP sorties support Homeland Security and DEA activities.
For more information go to www.gocivilairpatrol.com.