This is CAP’s best-known activity. It entails air and ground search and rescue, local disaster relief, as well as cooperation with and assistance to other emergency services agencies. CAP members fly well over 80 percent of all the hours flown on search and rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The center coordinates search and rescue efforts within the inland search and rescue region (48 contiguous states).
In the last five years, CAP crews have been involved in more than 5,500 search and rescue or other emergency service missions. During this time, these volunteers were credited with saving the lives of more than 425 persons and with locating the objects of their searches nearly 2,500 times. These missions required more than 92,000 hours of flying time.
CAP, as well as members who fly their own airplanes on these missions, are reimbursed by the Air Force for fuel, oil, and communication expenses. In addition, the Air Force now provides maintenance costs for these as well as certain training missions.
Often, CAP members also help in missions which may involve airlifting blood or donor organs, medication and civil or relief officials to disaster areas. Disaster relief missions may also involve air surveillance of disaster areas, as well as the air evacuation of the stranded, sick or injured. Rescue work and aid are provided during floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other emergencies.
CAP maintains a nationwide network of over 20,000 radio stations, which provides an invaluable backup to state, local civil defense and Air Force communications. Locally, the stations support state disaster plans and provide communications for CAP search and rescue and other disaster relief missions.
The CAP Corporation owns over 500 light aircraft, primarily Cessna 172s, 182s and 206s. Additionally, CAP members own another 4,700 aircraft that can be used to support assigned missions.
When all of these assets are combined, CAP operates the world’s largest fleet of civil aircraft and flies nearly 130,000 hours each year.
An often-overlooked resource is the number and experience of CAP pilots. One-third of all CAP members are FAA-qualified pilots.
In addition to aircraft, the CAP Corporation owns 950 ground vehicles to support their missions.
Many of these vehicles are equipped with sophisticated communications equipment that becomes invaluable during disasters or extended SAR missions.