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Display: Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
Organization: U.S. Air Force Auxiliary
Display Location: Large Hangar
Misc: On Display with Cessna 172P
Websites: www.ilgp1.org / www.gocivilairpatrol.com
Civil Air Patrol


Civil Air Patrol is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official auxiliary of the U. S. Air Force.

Mission The Civil Air Patrol performs three main functions -- emergency services, aerospace education and cadet training.

Emergency Services CAP's emergency services include air and ground search and rescue, disaster relief, counterdrug, and an increasing role in homeland security. Its members fly more than 95 percent of the inland search and rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue and Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The Civil Air Patrol flew more than 3,000 search and rescue missions and was credited with saving 73 lives in 2005.

CAP assists the U.S. Customs Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Forest Service in their counterdrug efforts. In 2005, CAP aircrews flew more than 12,000 hours in support of the nation's war on drugs and were credited with contributing to the confiscation of more than $400 million of illegal drugs.

CAP aircraft fly non-combat homeland security missions such as surveillance of critical infrastructure, airborne communications relay, and airlift of critical cargo. These missions are flown under the authority of the U.S. Northern Command, the Joint command responsible for the continental United States. CAP receives tasking from the air component of Northern Command, 1st Air Force, with headquarters at Tyndall AFB, Fla.

CAP provides extensive support to the nation's Gulf coast following natural disasters. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, CAP serviced dozens of locations across the region -- more than 1,500 CAP members volunteered to provide support ranging from aircraft missions such as search and rescue, transportation of critical personnel and supplies, and aerial imagery of flood damaged areas for civil authorities to ground team missions such as house to house searching of neighborhoods and passing out emergency supplies. In total, the CAP flew nearly 1,000 aircraft missions in support of the hurricane relief efforts.

Aerospace Education The Civil Air Patrol's aerospace education programs provide its members and the educational community information about aviation and space activities. Each year it supports about 200 aerospace education workshops for teachers at approximately 100 colleges and universities around the country, preparing an estimated 5,000 teachers to teach aerospace-related subjects in their classrooms. The National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, an annual national convention for aerospace teachers is one of CAP's major contributions to the nation's aerospace education. The organization also develops curriculum and publishes aerospace educational materials for use in the nation's schools.

Cadet Program The CAP Cadet Program inspires the country's youth to become leaders and good citizens through their interest in aviation and community service. Through studies and other activities, cadets progress through achievements that include special activities, aerospace education, leadership programs, moral leadership, and physical fitness. As cadets progress they earn increased rank, awards or certificates. They may become eligible for CAP national or international special activities and compete for academic and flying scholarships. Upon completion of their initial training phase, cadets receive the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award, which entitles them to enter the Air Force as an airman first class, should they chose to enlist. CAP cadets also compete favorably for AFROTC scholarships and USAF Academy appointments. The program is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents of the United States, and its territories and possessions. Cadets in the program are 12 to 18 years old.

Organization Civil Air Patrol has eight geographic regions composed of 52 wings -- one wing for each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Wings are subdivided into groups, squadrons and, sometimes, flights. There are approximately 1,600 individual units.

Headquarters Civil Air Patrol is located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., The headquarters is staffed with nearly 100 full-time civilian employees who provide administrative and logistics support to 57,000 CAP members nationwide. Although paid by the Air Force, these employees are neither Air Force civil servants or contractors, they are employees of the CAP Corporation. A small active-duty unit, Civil Air Patrol-United States Air Force is collocated with the CAP headquarters and assigned to Air University. CAP-USAF, staffed by military and Air Force civilian personnel, provides advice, assistance, liaison and oversight of CAP.

Additional CAP-USAF liaison personnel are assigned to CAP regions and wings to advise and assist field units. Air Force Reserve members assist CAP through the Civil Air Patrol Reserve Assistance Program. CAP-USAF has approximately 40 active-duty military, 60 civilian and 250 reserve personnel assigned.

Membership consists of approximately 23,000 cadets and more than 34,000 adult volunteers. They wear the Air Force uniform, but with distinctive CAP emblems and insignia. The Air Force provides funds for the purchase and maintenance of 530 aircraft and more than 950 vehicles to support the organization.

History Civil Air Patrol was founded Dec. 1, 1941. During World War II, its principal purpose was to allow private pilots and aviation enthusiasts to use their light aircraft and flying skills in civil defense efforts. In 1943, the organization came under control and direction of the Army Air Forces. Civil Air Patrol became a permanent peacetime institution July 1, 1946, when President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 476 establishing it as a federally chartered, benevolent, civilian corporation.

In May 1948, Public Law 557 made the organization the official auxiliary of the Air Force. This law, known as the CAP Supply Bill, authorized the Secretary of the Air Force to assign military and civilian personnel to liaison offices at all levels of CAP. Congress again fundamentally modified the organization in 2000. With the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act, Congress clarified auxiliary status as a conditional state dependent on CAP performing actual services for a federal department or agency. Congress also specified the funding mechanisms the Air Force must use to provide funds to CAP for operations, maintenance, and procurement of property.

Most significantly, Congress created the CAP Board of Governors to serve as the principal governing body of the organization. This 11-member board is made up of members appointed by the Secretary of the Air Force and senior CAP volunteers. The Board of Governors provides strategic direction and guidance to CAP, while delegating many day-to-day operations of CAP to the CAP National Commander and his staff.

Information and photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

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