The South Carolina Wing of Civil Air Patrol is flying high as it celebrates its 80th birthday this month.
Founded in 1941 a week before the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force that now boasts 1,400 units nationwide.
It began its life under fire, as the United States was bombarded by German U-boat attacks. With shipping lanes along the East Coast under threat and more than 400 merchant vessels and oil tankers already destroyed by German torpedoes, the short-handed military called upon civilian pilots to protect the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines. Privately owned airplanes armed with light bombs began patrolling the coasts, flying a total of 244,600 hours.
Decades later, the Civil Air Patrol remains a vital resource when facing a variety of challenges. From providing search-and-rescue operations for downed aircraft and missing persons, to natural disaster assistance and emergency response, to aiding Air Force operations, the Congressionally mandated nonprofit organization includes 80 local members of the Greenville Composite Squadron.
It also serves as a chance to prepare the next generation of young pilots to hone their skills in the skies.
“You’re watching these kids grow up physically, but what amazes me, even more, is to watch them grow up just in their bearing, “ said Capt. David Bennett, the local unit’s public affairs officer, while speaking to the Greenville Journal last summer. “I never see kids mature in the way these kids do in this program.”
To join as a senior member or youth visit https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/join/join-cap
Prospective cadets can also apply directly at https://www.capnhq.gov/CAP.MembershipSystem.Web/CadetOnlineApp.aspx (Note: the Wing is SC, and the squadron number is 014.)
For more information, email the Recruiting & Retention Officer at email@example.com
The national Civil Air Patrol operates one of the largest fleets of single-engine aircraft in the world, with 560 planes, and boasts more than 66,100 adult and youth volunteers in 1,442 squadrons across the country. In addition, the CAP:
- Conducts 90% percent of inland search and rescue in the U.S. as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies.
- Has more than 36,000 emergency responders.
- Provides more than 450 chaplains and 600 character-development instructors who
minister to youth and adult members and help comfort survivors and victims of disasters.
- Performs aerial reconnaissance for homeland security.
- Provides air-intercept training, light transport, communications support and low-level route surveys for the Air Force.
- Provides disaster-relief photography and support to local, state and national agencies.
- Transports time-sensitive medical materials, blood products and body tissues when
commercial resources are unavailable.