Hanscom Composite Squadron

Civil Air Patrol - US Air Force Auxiliary

Emergency Services Mission Pilot

The Civil Air Patrol Emergency Services mission provides some of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities available to CAP Pilots. The typical aircrew consists of one Mission Pilot with the sole responsibility of operating the aircraft in a safe manner and maintaining the prescribed search patterns. One or two trained CAP Mission Scanners or Mission Observers are responsible for conducting the technical operations of the mission. There are a number of different mission types that are possible for the Mission Pilot.

Search and Rescue

Typical search and rescue targets may include an activated Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), a missing or overdue aircraft, or a missing person. Search and Rescue missions are usually assigned by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center through a local Civil Air Patrol Incident Commander. These missions are flown at a relatively low altitude and airspeed thus requiring the careful attention of the pilot in command. Pilots involved in these missions train frequently on a number of search patterns used for specific situations.

Disaster Assessment and Relief

One of the hardest questions for officials to answer in the immediate wake of a natural disaster typically involves the scope of the damage and the resources required to meet immediate needs. This is where the work of the Civil Air Patrol aircrew comes in. CAP aircrews can mobilize quickly and locate the affected areas, survey the damage, and send digital images back to the requesting agency in real time using the Civil Air Patrol's Satellite Data Imaging System (SDIS). If additional details or photos are requested, this information can be relayed by radio to the aircrew and the necessary diversion made.

CAP Emergency Services Mission Pilot Qualifications

Meet all applicable criteria to become a Civil Air Patrol pilot, with the following exceptions:

  • Active CAP member at least 18 years of age
  • General Emergency Services Qualified
  • Transport Mission Pilot Qualified 
  • Mission Scanner Qualified
  • Minimum 175 hours experience as pilot in command