Who can join the Cadet Program for CAP aerospace? Candidates must be between 13 to 18 years of age, or have at least finished the sixth grade, no matter what their age is. The cadets in the aerospace program get immersed in leadership programs, educational activities, "moral leadership and physical fitness." Along the way to getting their training, the aerospace cadets can earn advanced ranks (just like the regular military enlistees do), they can get awards and certificates, and they "may become eligible for CAP national or international special activities" and compete for scholarships," the article continues.
What are the requirements for individuals to become an airborne part of the regular CAP? They have to have a private pilot license, journalist Phillips writes in Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. They also have to have accumulated 200 hours of flying time, but they can begin training for missions after 175 hours of flying time. "A special check ride is required before approval to train as a mission pilot," Phillips explains. Also, all mission pilots are required to take a check ride each year, in order to stay active as a flying member of CAP.
The average pilot in a CAP program flies about 25 to 30 hours every year, mostly (except in the case of an emergency or disaster like Katrina) "practicing search profiles and other mission-related operations, including instrument approaches." Part of the regular training of a CAP flier is to learn how to look for aircraft that have gone done.
When the CAP began actually performing disaster recovery missions - above and beyond its traditional "search-and-rescue operations" - the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began paying for the training of pilots in "observation techniques," Phillips explains. An example of that work is when a "major tornado nearly destroyed the town of Hallam, Nebraska," in 2004; the CAP was in the air taking photos of the devastation and "transmitting them to emergency agencies in Nebraska," according to Captain Philip Jossie, quoted earlier in this paper.
The agencies in Nebraska that received the transmitted photos from CAP planes in turn sent imagery to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington (FEMA). "Our relationship with [disaster relief agencies] and the DHS will grow in part because we can go up for about $70 an hour," Jossie explained. It costs much more to send military planes or other government planes into the air.
While it was pointed out earlier in the paper that the CAP members do not carry weapons and do not chase after drug dealers, the CAP was in fact right in the thick of the fighting in World War II, according to an article in the journal World War II. Writer Nick Jacobellis points out that in WWI, the CAP dropped 82 bombs or depth charges on 57 German submarines, "sinking or severely damaging at least two of them." The CAP also located 363 survivors of sunken ships, spotted 17 floating mines and 36 bodies. The CAP also flew 86,685 combat missions and completed 5,684 special convoy missions. The CAP patrolled 24 million miles of ocean in support of the war against the Nazis, and in the process lost 90 of its aircraft and 26 pilots and co-pilots.
The CAP officially got into the war on December 1, 1941, six days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, when by presidential order the CAP was made officially an "auxiliary air arm of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF). Once the USAAF began to recruit volunteers, Jacobellis wrote, "volunteers answered the call from every corner of the country." Young and old, rich and poor, disabled men too - they "came with a mixed bag of talents and aircraft to staff coastal patrol bases that were established on a shoestring budged from Maine to Texas," Jacobellis continued.
With a number of good volunteers ready and willing to serve, the call then went out to private aircraft owners who were "...willing to rent their planes to the CAP." What the government offered to do was pay the owners of small aircraft between $10.65 and $41 per hour, depending on the horsepower of the plane that the government was renting; the pay per hour also depended on whether or not the plane would be armed for combat, Jacobellis explained.
The main purpose for the planes was for "antisubmarine" activities. Imagine a civilian pilot who volunteered to help fight the Germans, and who rented his plane out to Uncle Sam; now he also is being given 100-pound bombs and 325-depth charges to drop on German submarines. That is how the war was fought, though, and in the end, it is how the war was won.
About.com. (2005). Air Force Fact Sheets: Civil Air Patrol. Retrieved 2 Dec, 2006, at http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/affacts/blcivilairpatrol.htm.
Air Force Print News Today. (2005). Air Force Search and Rescue Crews Combing Coast, Civil
Air Patrol Assessing Damage. Retrieved 2 Dec. 2006 at http://www.af.mil/pressreleases/story_print.asp?storyID=123011923.
Air Force Print News Today (2006). Civil Air Patrol honored for hurricane relief contributions. Retrieved 2 Dec. 2006 at http://www.af.mil/news/story_print.asp?storyID=123027420.
Duff, Phyllis. (2006). CAP proves worth during Katrina relief. Air Force Link, Retrieved 2 Dec. 2006 at http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123026197.