Civil Air Patrol Joins U.S. Air Force ‘Total Force’, Local Chapters Expect Increased Visibility

Civil Air Patorl BoysORLANDO, Fla. (EYT) – The Civil Air Patrol was officially recognized as a part of the U.S. Air Force’s “Total Force” as of August 28, and the distinction will bring more opportunities for the members of local Civil Air Patrol units, including one based in Clarion with members from Jefferson County.

Air Force General Mark Welsh announced the all-volunteer Civil Air Patrol (CAP) – the U.S. Air Force auxiliary – is now considered part of the Total Force which includes active duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees.

Clarion Composite Squadron Commander, Captain Steve Aaron, told that members of the CAP perform a variety of non-combatant roles in conjunction with their specific training, which include assisting authorities in homeland security as well as state and local law enforcement, also helping in times of natural disaster.

Civil Air Patrol Computer

“During Hurricane Sandy a few years ago our planes and air crews were tasked by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with getting in the air right away to do aerial photography so they could see where flood waters are and where they are receding. During many natural disasters, we are one of the first on the scene,” Aaron said.

The CAP also played a critical role in helping authorities on one of the nation’s darkest days.

“During 9-11, all civilian aircraft were grounded except the Civil Air Patrol, and we were doing aerial photography for the local and national law enforcement agencies so they could see what was going on,” Aaron said.

These aren’t the only times CAP is in the air; in addition to what the organization calls “Performing Missions for America,” CAP’s pilots provide “Orientation Flights” to their youth membership as a way to introduce them the fundamentals and joy of flight.

“During certain times of the year, our aircraft are flying 80 to 90 percent of the time simply to keep up with the demand for mission work and Orientation Flights,” Aaron said.

While the CAP assists authorities at the local, state, and federal level, they are also called upon for Air Force Assigned Missions.

“Being included as part of the Air Force’s Total Force should help to give us additional name recognition and further opportunities to serve our community, state and nation,” Aaron said.

A Volunteer Membership Organization

Members of the CAP volunteer from within local units, and there are regional squadrons in Clarion, Franklin, Warren, and St. Mary’s. The Clarion unit has about 30 members at any given time, which includes senior members (adults) and cadets (youth age 12-18).

Civil Air Patrol Pilot Girl

Aaron said being able to fly isn’t necessary for membership, and many members of the CAP are not trained pilots.

“We always have people serving in many other ways, such as assisting with finance & administration, transportation & logistics, and other STEM related fields. A big misconception is people think if they aren’t into flying or working with kids, there’s nothing to do, but we’re like any other organization and we will find a way for those who are willing to serve,” Aaron said.

Both men and women can serve in the CAP, and the cadet program is available to boys and girls age 12-18.

“A number of parents had children who joined as cadets, and they have now also joined to help in support roles,” Aaron said.

The cadet program teaches principles of leadership and discipline in addition to STEM related training in fields such as astronomy, robotics, RC aircraft, and cyber security.

“All of our regulations are based on Air Force regulations, so our cadet program is typically more highly disciplined compared to many other youth programs. Kids enjoy it, and they earn promotions which follow the Air Force grade structure. Our youth program is huge for leadership, and we often have people who get into college or adult careers who say it has helped them step immediately into leadership roles, often surprising others with how quickly and effectively they can lead,” Aaron said.

Those interested in joining CAP can find a local unit in their area by visiting and using the “Find a Squadron Near You” feature to search for a squadron by zip code.

“Usually we invite prospective members to visit us for several meetings, so we can get to know them and they can get to know what we’re all about. We need to feel our members are a good fit, because it is important people understand what we do and want to be here,” Aaron said.

Prospective senior members must go through a background check due to the work with cadets.

“It is a rigorous but reasonable screening process,” Aaron said.

History Of CAP

Civil Air Patrol History

The organization was founded Dec. 1, 1941. During World War II its members flew patrols along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and eventually helped stop German U-boats attacking U.S. oil tankers carrying fuel for domestic and Allied forces.

Other CAP members contributed to the war effort through such missions as towing targets for military trainees, spotting forest fires, conducting search and rescue missions, providing disaster relief and emergency transport of people and parts and conducting orientation flights for future pilots.

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