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Flying high

Washington Wing Civil Air Patrol learns about space and aviation

Cadets learn to fly gliders as part of the program. Photo credit WA Wing CAP

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Are you skilled in flying and have the desire to do more for this nation?  Do you already have a personal plane that could be used to defend this country or even help those devastated with disasters such as last year's Oso Landslide? Maybe you just have a love for flying and the military but aren't necessarily ready to sign the dotted line just yet.

If your answer to any of these questions were yes, then you might want to get yourself prepared to join the Civil Air Patrol.

The Civil Air Patrol's story started back in the late 1930s and couldn't have come at a better time.

With more than 150,000 volunteers, with an affinity for aviation, arguing for an organization to put their flying skills and planes to use in assisting the defense of their country, the Civil Air Patrol was formed.

This congressionally chartered and federally supported non-profit corporation, serving as an official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF), was actually born just one week before the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

After the CAP's assistance during Pearl Harbor and then again World War II, the nation took notice of the benefit of having the CAP continuing to provide invaluable assistance to both local and national agencies.  

Three primary mission areas were set and still remain the primary focus of the CAP today: aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.

It doesn't come as a mystery to most, that Washington State has a large affinity towards aviation.

"Our small aircraft fleet is one the largest in the nation under one organization with approximately 500+ Cessna 172s, 182s and 206s as well as Gippsland GA-8," said 1st Lt. Daniel Boudreau, Deputy Commander for Cadets for Skagit Composite Squadron and Assistant Instructor at Washington Wing Ground Search and Rescue Academy.

This fleet is a staple in the Washington Wing CAP's Aerospace Education priority.

The Civil Air Patrol's Aerospace Education (AE) function focuses on communicating knowledge, skills and attitudes about aerospace activities and the total impact of space and air vehicles upon society.

"The AE mission today in relation to civil and military aviation as well as space exploration comes from a need to foster interest in all aviation science, technology, engineering and math as well as history (STEM-H) to keep America moving forward and looking to the future in those fields," said 1st Lt. Daniel Boudreau.

This priority shines light on the importance of implementing programs such as their National Safety Officer College, National Staff College and the CAP's Glider Orientation Flights program which instills characteristics of teamwork amongst the cadets and gives them glider and powered aircraft flight experience among many other skills.

"We conduct Ground and Air Search & Rescue and we have the largest chaplaincy of any volunteer organization in the United States," said Lt. Col. Teresia Sayler, Ground Team Training Officer for Washington Wing and Director of the Washington Wing Ground Search and Rescue Academy.

The CAP's final priority, Emergency Services, may be the most notable priority of the CAP with the focus generated on saving lives and relieving human suffering.  The Washington State Civil Air Patrol mainly works with Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Search and Rescue and most recently assisted with last year's wildfires in Central Washington and even the Oso Landslide.

"During the Oso/SR 530 slide, some CAP personnel assisted in the recovery operations as well as flying CAP aircraft photo survey missions for the Washington State Department of Emergency Management to help in the assessment of the damage," said 1st Lt. Boudreau.  "Also, toward the end of the massive Carlton Complex wildfire last summer, six CAP aircraft and mission support personnel staged out of Skagit Regional Airport to fly two days of photographic survey missions for DEM."

The Washington Wing CAP utilizes their cadet programs to provide the perfect opportunity for anyone interested in assisting with emergency services and aerospace education in becoming a part of this nation's air defense.

To find out more information about the Washington Wing Civil Air Patrol and/or to find out about how you can become involved, please visit

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