What is the Civil Air Patrol?
The Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. We are unpaid professionals in service to our communities and country, we are not regular members of the armed forces. The Civil Air Patrol was organized Dec 1, 1941 to patrol the coasts, tow targets, fly liaison missions and other duties. Back then, we provided a means for civilians to assist the war effort. We located over 50 enemy submarines during the war and attacked over a dozen with bombs and depth charges.
Our combat duties ended in 1947 and we concentrated on our three congressional missions- emergency services, aerospace and cadet programs. We have agreements with FEMA, the State of Michigan Homeland Security and other Federal/State/Local agencies. Using small, single engine aircraft, we are able to conduct emergency operations efficiently and inexpensively compared to other agencies. Nationally, we are very active during disasters including hurricanes, floods, fires, and in searches for missing or overdue aircraft.
Approximately 1 in 5 members are single engine aircraft pilots. The remainder have varied interests from youth organizations to communications, to ground based emergency services. We are responsible for in excess of 85% of inland search and rescue, are credited with over 80 finds per year, and have 35 squadrons based in Michigan. Many of our members are fire, police and Ems, some are former military and many just want to be of service to their community.
The best know mission of the Civil Air Patrol is search and rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. During disaster relief efforts we provide digital imagery to map damage and check infrastructure. CAP assists with the transport of people, blood and organs. We have a national communication system independent of phone and internet. The Civil Air Patrol works with homeland security, local law enforcement and FEMA. Michigan members are trained to National Incident Management System standards. Learn more here.
The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is for young men and women 12-21. Cadets organize and run the vast majority of our ground searches and emergency communication (with Senior member supervision). Our cadet program is organized in a similar fashion to an Air Force squadron. Cadet NCO’s and Officers learn real world leadership skills, receive aerospace and physical training, and are an essential part of our mission. Cadets that progress sufficiently in the program may join the Air Force as E-3’s in basic training (joining the armed forces is not required). In addition to regular weekly or biweekly meetings, cadets (and senior members) may take part in a variety of local, state, national and even international activities. Learn more here.
The Civil Air Patrol offers aerospace education for its own members and the general public. Cadets may attend Flight Academies, Model Rocketry, RC Airplanes, and Orientation Flights in our small aircraft and gliders. Educators have access to FREE Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Kits for classroom hands on projects from flight simulators to robotics to classroom built weather stations. Learn more here and here.