The importance of the Civil Air Patrol in Alaska

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the longtime civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, and is a valued member of its total force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine aircraft and 1,944 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). It performs about 90% of the continental United States inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC). The CAP is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually.

CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief, and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies. Operating as a nonprofit organization, CAP also plays a leading role in STEM/aerospace education, and its members serve as mentors to about 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s cadet programs. You can view our most recent online monthly magazine here.

CAP’s membership consists of 33,499 senior (adult) and 22,618 cadet volunteers nationwide, with 493 and 218 respectively in Alaska. Its main equipment includes approximately 560 aircraft (mainly single-engine Cessna aircraft), 46 gliders, 991 vehicles, and some 10,000 radios. CAP provides great value as its average hourly operational cost is $165 compared to $644 for a drone (RPA-MQ-IB), $7,405 for a helicopter (HH60G), and $9,492 for airlift (C-130E).

CAP’s congressional charters are emergency services, cadet programs, and aerospace education. The Civil Air Patrol saves lives and aids communities across the nation through our emergency-services and operational missions of disaster relief, humanitarian services, and Air Force support and counterdrug operations.

CAP motivates its youth (aged 12-20) to live the Core Values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect as they advance through a hierarchical curriculum in which advanced cadets mentor junior cadets. CAP cadet officers (top 15% of all cadets) are eligible for a rank of E-3 upon enlistment in the Air Force. Cadets’ STEM education is augmented with career explorations and job shadowing with a growing cyber emphasis.

CAP’s aerospace education mission is to educate, inspire, and instill an understanding of the importance of aerospace in today’s world and to prepare American citizens to meet the challenges of a sophisticated aerospace society. CAP offers K-12 national standards-based educational products that inspire over 150,000 youth annually toward STEM subjects and careers. Teachers and youth leaders who join CAP receive free classroom materials, professional development opportunities, orientation flights, and much more.

Please encourage your elected representatives to support state funding for CAP to save lives, provide leadership opportunities to our youth, and help educate our kids in STEM.

Bryan Emerson is a lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol. He serves as the public affairs officer for the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. He and his wife Laura live in an off-road, off-grid Alaska bush homestead. You can view their blog here

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2 years ago

Always good to be reminded about the CAP, but this article is only vague, national, ‘fluff’ background. Other than the author’s presumable current residence in Alaska, there is nothing whatever that refers to CAP in Alaska. I have a good friend who’s flown for our CAP for decades and has flown in conditions and situations unlikely to be encountered elsewhere. There are not even any Alaska-specific stats or descriptions. Very mislabeled article.

2 years ago

This statement is misleading “ CAP provides great value as its average hourly operational cost is $165 compared to $644 for a drone (RPA-MQ-IB), $7,405 for a helicopter (HH60G), and $9,492 for airlift (C-130E).” What is included in the “average hourly cost?” Is it technically as adequate as what it is compared to? It is about equivalent to the cost of avgas for an hour of flight. That doesn’t take into account the maintenance costs for a Cessna ($200/hr) or the cost of airport storage fees like a hanger. Not including all the pilot trainings, aircrew trainings, ground personnel trainings,… Read more »

2 years ago

Having tried to work with CAP in the past and join as a senior member at least a few years ago here in Alaska it was nothing but a flying club for a select few retired officers who guarded it fiercely. Yes they have a much needed role in SAR and the national disaster recovery framework and at the state level and they are needed but what keeps alot of veterans away from the organization is the retired 0-5 /0-6 mentality that never left. Many of these guys think they are still in and it shows. I found that yes… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Rick