The Civil Air Patrol surpassed 100,000 flying hours across its fleet of planes for the 2016 fiscal year Sept. 6 — more than a 7% increase over the previous year.
On the same date in fiscal 2015, flying hours totaled 93,256.
Why has CAP flown more this year?
John Desmarais, director of operations at National Headquarters, attributed the increase primarily to disaster relief missions and the training to support it, though most CAP flying missions have increased this year.
Disaster relief flights have totaled 850 more hours this year than last, Desmarais said. He cited 46 such missions across the country, ranging from massive flooding in South Carolina at the start of the fiscal year to recent support for the response to Hurricane Hermine in Florida.
CAP aircrews have also flown more than 1,000 additional hours this year in training for emergency missions, Desmarais said.
“CAP is always looking for new opportunities for its members to fly in support of their communities across the country, while continuing to prepare for and respond to emergencies when needed,” he said.
“We don’t often know where the next disaster will be, but CAP works to be prepared all the time,” he added.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees.
CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually.
Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program.
Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans.