CAP is South Dakota’s eyes of the home skies

CAP is South Dakota's eyes of the home skies At the end of the fiscal year of 2002, the South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, the all volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, responded to more than 100 missions including one missing aircraft and one missing helicopter search.

The overwhelming majority of the missions were tasked by the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management (OEM), South Dakota Wildland Fire Division (WFD) and the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC).

The missions included:


* Forty-nine emergency services mission callouts.


* 1,147.9 total flying hours.


* Twenty total search and rescue missions.


* One disaster relief missions


* Forty fire missions for WFD.


* Forty-three fires spotted.


* Fifteen OEM search and rescue missions.


* Nineteen AFRCC missions.


* Two missing aircraft/helicopter missions.


* Seventeen emergency signal missions.


* Seventeen emergency signals located at airport as false alarm.

"CAP continues to serve South Dakotans in a variety of missions. The leadership is not only proud of our effectiveness, but also the safety with which volunteers carry out tasks," said Colonel Mary F. Donley, South Dakota Wing Commander.

Summary of

top 2002 missions

In January, two satellite hits of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) pin-point-ed at Redfield Airport near Highway 212 were recorded at 3:15 a.m. A ground team from Aberdeen was quickly assembled on their way to Redfeild Airport, approximately 40 minutes away. Less than 30 minutes later the ELT was located inside a hanger on the airport grounds. Minutes later the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center advises the ground team that a second ELT was detected just north of Redfeild Airport. Within the hour the second ELT was located at the Lakeview Apartments. It was from a parachute.

During the first week of June, the Wing responded to fires in the Black Hills as Incident Commander Col. Alden House dispatched an aircrew immediately.

Seven fires were spotted by CAP air teams which directed more than 65 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, State Department of Corrections, South Dakota National Guard and the National Park Service into battled the blaze in steep, rugged terrain.

Between June 30 and July 5, as the Grizzly Gulch fires raged on, ground teams from Custer, Spearfish, Rapid City, Brookings and Sioux Falls were mobilized immediately and coordinated with American Red Cross and National Guard officials to provided needed logistical and administrative support at the evacuation center at Black Hills State University. Additionally, Civil Air Patrol members transported evacuees out of the danger areas and transported water and meals to National Guard helicopter crews.

Civil Air Patrol ground teams from Custer, Philip and Onida were immediately dispatched to a heli-port in

U.S. Forest Service land near Cactus Flats, 20 miles southeast of Wall as an ELT was sounding. Although, later determined as a false alarm, CAP search crews were on the scene in just over an hour.

On Sept. 9, Incident Commander LtCol. Donald Barbalace helped coordinate CAP, sheriff and hospital search efforts for a Bell 206 L1 Life Flight Helicopter which had crashed two miles southeast of Doland the day before. Civil Air Patrol aircraft were the first searchers on the scene.

The Civil Air Patrol, as the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, performs more than 85 percent of the inland search and rescue missions as tasked by local, state and federal agencies.

Since 1941, the Civil Air Patrol has strived to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency services missions � search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian services.

Twelve squadrons throughout the state (Aberdeen, Brookings, Custer, Pierre, Onida, Phillip, Rapid City, two in Sioux Falls, Spearfish, Watertown and Yankton) with more than 350 members are the eyes of South Dakota's home skies.

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