7/21/2010–Mobile, AL–Civil Air Patrol’s Deepwater Horizon Response has already reached significant milestones, surpassing 10,000 volunteer hours and 1,000 hours of flight time while providing aerial oil spill reconnaissance along the Gulf Coast.
“The level of CAP members’ response to the oil spill is significant and an indication of the continued diversification of Civil Air Patrol’s missions,” said CAP National Commander Maj. Gen. Amy S. Courter, who received the news during a briefing last week at the incident command center in Mobile.
Acting in its role as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP pilots fly the coastline daily to monitor and document oil control efforts, while scanners onboard take photos of booms deployed along the shoreline. The images, as many as 3,000 each day, provide valuable information to agencies managing the response.
“It is critical to (the response), because a day is an eternity in this event,” said Eric Songer, data management group manager for Geographical Information Systems, one of several agencies at work at the command center. “If a boom gets out of place or is misplaced, it’s not there to protect what it’s supposed to.”
Courter’s visit to Mobile came on the 60th day of Civil Air Patrol’s sustained operation on the Gulf Coast. Southeast Region Commander Col. James M. Rushing, who briefed Courter on CAP’s Gulf response to the oil spill, described it as CAP’s biggest mission since World War II, when civilian pilots who founded the organization used their own aircraft to keep German U-boats away from America’s East and Gulf coasts. CAP has made great strides since those early days, becoming one of the nation’s premier volunteer organizations with a workforce of more than 60,000 members and one of the largest fleets of single-engine aircraft in the world.
“It’s wonderful to see the trained, experienced, competent CAP members working shoulder-to-shoulder with their Air Force and Coast Guard counterparts as part of the whole team,” Courter said. “We are partnered at such high levels with other services and agencies. This speaks volumes about CAP’s ability to handle incident command structures and imagery standards.”
To date, CAP aircrews have launched 497 sorties in support of the response, logging 1,099 flight hours in 33 of the organization’s signature red, white and blue planes. In all, 239 CAP volunteers have put in 10,361 hours in support of the mission.
For now, Courter said CAP will maintain a presence in Mobile. “From the briefings I heard today, I believe there will continue to be a need to support the communities and environment of the Gulf Coast and to respond with smart people who are capable of continually modifying their responses as the crisis unfolds,” she said.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving more than 100 lives so far in fiscal year 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.
For more information on Civil Air Patrol, visit gocivilairpatrol.com, or check out the latest news on Civil Air Patrol on capvolunteernow.com.
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Local CAP contact:
Capt. Phil Norris
Assistant Director of Public Affairs