For over 80 years, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has protected the homeland and served local communities – from patrolling for German U-Boats during World War II, to emergency response efforts during 9/11 and natural disasters, to using advanced technology to locate downed aircraft. CAP’s mission continues to evolve to address new challenges and opportunities, and the organization’s Long Island Group (LIG) is at the forefront of flying CAP’s mission into the future.
Emergency Services is one of CAP’s core missions, and LIG trains continuously to assist the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in locating downed aircraft and individuals in distress. Nationally, CAP was involved in 525 searches in 2022, saving 151 lives. LIG regularly holds joint training exercises – called TRAEXs – with other contingents of CAP throughout the Northeast U.S. to promote interoperability and joint capabilities. When a small single-engine plane crashed in Westchester County in January, CAP’s National Radar Analysis Team and a specially-trained CAP ground team were instrumental in locating the downed aircraft and supporting the recovery effort.
At times of local or national disasters, CAP is frequently called upon to support recovery efforts with aerial imagery. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, CAP aircraft from LIG was among the first civilian aircraft in the air, tasked with providing imagery of Ground Zero the day after the attack.
Today, CAP aircrews are supporting disaster response efforts with aerial imagery from not only manned aircraft but increasingly unmanned aerial systems (UAS). CAP’s Long Island UAS team is at the leading edge of a national effort to support local, state, and federal efforts to save lives and property in times of disaster. The imagery obtained by CAP assets can be used in tasks ranging from identifying lost individuals or property to conducting post-hurricane community damage assessments.
CAP also plays a vital role in promoting aerospace education and supporting the local aviation community. As the country faces a shortage of pilots, CAP is engaging youth in aviation and training the next generation of pilots. CAP’s cadet program allows Long Islanders aged 12-20 the opportunity for after-school activities geared toward fitness, leadership and character development, and aerospace education. Cadets are given the opportunity to fly with CAP pilots on orientation missions and to work toward a pilot’s license.
CAP maintains six cadet squadrons across Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as several in New York City.
LIG assists the local aviation community each year at the Bethpage Air Show, providing logistical and security support at Farmingdale’s Republic Airport. This year’s airshow took place May 27-28. LIG is also working with aviation stakeholders throughout Long Island to promote knowledge of the region’s rich history in aviation.