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The Civil Air Patrol's Alabama Wing is a community service organization made up of over 1,000 professionally trained volunteers. ALWG represents a locally-available talent and asset pool for municipal, state, and federal government entities to utilize as a cost effective aerial and ground support resource. 

We are proud to present this information from our CAPabilities Handbook, a field operations guide that local, state and federal agencies can utilize to task CAP for incident response assistance. This page identifies ways in which CAP can assist you and your agency in both routine operations as well as local and national emergency and humanitarian missions. Please let your CAP point of contact know if there is any additional information we can provide to help better show how CAP can meet your operational requirements. 


  1. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a Congressionally-chartered community service organization which, when performing missions for any agency of the Federal government, is deemed to be an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. 
  2. CAP can assist state and local governments in performing various missions. In an Air Force auxiliary status, CAP can support federal agencies to include assistance to state and local governments requested by a Lead Federal Agency (LFA). 
  3. The same legal authorities that govern use of USAF assets generally apply to CAP. USAF assigned missions are flown under military command and control, usually at the operational level, under authority of the Air Component Commander (ACC). 
  4. Types of missions CAP can perform:
  • Airborne reconnaissance of border and coastal areas, ports and harbors, and critical infrastructure as "presence” missions; damage assessment and recovery support for disaster areas. 
  • Aerial transportation of personnel, equipment, blood, tissue, organs and various customer-supplied sensor packages (subject to FAA reimbursement rules). 
  • Communications support; VHF-FM and HF capability and aerial communications relay platforms. 
  • Augment Incident Command staff; CAP has qualified emergency services personnel available to serve at all levels in the Incident Command System mission organization from trained incident commanders down to primary responders. 
  • Damage assessment and disaster recovery with trained ground teams able to augment civil and military authorities. 
  • Capable (with sufficient advanced coordination) of carrying various customer-supplied sensor packages aloft.


  • Aerial imaging with ability to quickly transmit high resolution digital photos within minutes. Have ability to contact aircraft to re-task or request different photo orientation. 
  • Light air transport capability for human blood, tissue or organs, equipment, passengers, or search dog teams to austere or remote airfields (subject to FAA reimbursement rules). 
  • Fleet of 21 ground vehicles and trailers for use by ground search and rescue teams or for transportation. 
  • Extensive communications network includes over 400 fixedland, mobile and portable VHF-FM radios, as well as a nationwide HF network. 
  • Possess interoperable ground and airborne communications platforms for use during major manmade, natural, or technological disasters. 
  • Cadre of Chaplains available for weekly religious services or general support. 
  • Ability to take law enforcement or VIP personnel aloft for visual reconnaissance. 
  • Emergency airlift availability between specific locations over time (specialized, customer-specific "air shuttle”). 
  • Can assist in crisis / consequence management. 
  • Able to perform aerial reconnaissance of critical infrastructure such as power plants, gas pipelines, and reservoirs. 
  • Hyperspectral imaging systems for complex or sophisticated target detection. 
  • Trained Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) personnel available with prior notice. 
  • Can accomplish missions at a fraction of the cost of other agencies. 
  • Members are volunteers who are reimbursed only for expenses.


  • Over 550 emergency services qualified personnel and a fleet of 14 aircraft statewide (from Huntsville to Mobile) available for tasking, generally with a 2-hour response time. 
  • With sufficient advanced coordination, CAP crews can be put on alert status so ground and air assets are able to respond within minutes. 
  • For non-immediate routine support, plan ahead and make requests several days in advance (one week preferable) to ensure enough time to approve request through the normal ATO (Air Tasking Order) process. 
  • Willing and able to work under a Lead Federal Agency (LFA). In the past, CAP has worked with agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as well as numerous state and local emergency management and law enforcement agencies. 
  • Volunteers are available for multi-day missions (with crew / team rotation), even those that stretch into weeks or months. Alabama Wing supported the Deep Water Horizon oil spill response mission for over 3 months 
  • Availability of specialized assets may be limited in some locations and might require more than a few hours notification.


  • 14 light civil aircraft, including Cessna C-172, C-182 models, as well as access to other wings' Cessna 206 and Gippsland GA-8 eight seat aircraft. 
  • Over 30 7, 12, & 15 passenger vans, 4 X 4s, and long-bed pickups. 
  • Dedicated communications vehicles with limited all-band capability and public service band interoperability. 
  • A nationwide radio communications system comprised of over 23,000 CAP-owned base, mobile, and portable two-way radios. 
  • National & regional HF radio networks providing survivable, infrastructure-independent command and control communications (not dependent on satellite/cellular telephone systems). 
  • 8 VHF-FM radio repeater stations located strategically throughout the state. 
  • 2 transportable VHF-FM suitcase radio repeaters. Units operate on CAP radio frequencies, and can be used either on the ground or from aircraft to support remote operations. 
  • Access to transportable UHF suitcase repeaters. Operating on federal interagency frequencies, they can be used either on the ground or from aircraft to support remote operations. 
  • 4 Aerial Digital Imaging Systems (ADIS) used to transmit still-frame digital pictures in near real time. Can also communicate directly with these aircraft from almost anywhere. 
  • Over 25 airborne, mobile, and hand-held DF units. 
  • Access to airborne hyperspectral imaging systems for complex or sophisticated target detection. 


  • The nationwide CAP communications system has deployed assets in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 
  • Over 170 VHF-FM base, mobile and portable radios. 
  • Over 200 UHF intra-squad (ISR) portable radios. 
  • HF/ALE long-range base, mobile and Rapid Deployment Packaged (RDP) stations. 
  • 2 transportable VHF FM suitcase radio repeaters. Units operate on CAP radio frequencies, and can be used on the ground or from aircraft to support remote operations. 
  • 7 VHF-FM radio repeater stations located strategically throughout Alabama providing essentially seamless airborne local coverage. All stations are NTIA P25 compliant. 
  • 2 airborne satellite telephone systems usable for either voice communications or digital data transmission. 
  • 2 dedicated communications vehicles with limited all-band capability and public service band interoperability. 
  • Over 25 airborne, mobile, and hand-held Direction Finder (DF) units, capable of receiving aviation, marine or personal distress beacons on 121.5, 243, and 406 Mhz. 
  • CAP National Technology Center in Richmond, VA provides depot-level radio equipment maintenance and stores emergency response radio kits for delivery to mission sites.


  • Over 550 emergency services qualified personnel nationwide. 
  • Nearly 200 qualified mission aircrew members. 
  • Over 100 members have been federally screened for Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) missions. 
  • All adults are fingerprinted and screened by the FBI before they are allowed to become members. 
  • A limited number of personnel have Department of Defense (DoD) or other Federal agency Secret and Top Secret clearances. Additional members can be cleared as needed for long-term missions. 
  • Over 150 mission-qualified ground team members serving on search teams; many are credentialed First Responder, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). 
  • Over 400 trained communicators, many also hold advanced Amateur Radio licenses. 
  • 13 ICS-qualified Incident Commanders and dozens of other command and general staff personnel. 
  • Trained Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) personnel available with sufficient advance notice

Mission Request Contacts

  • For Search And Rescue (SAR) / Life-Saving Missions (Including emergency blood, organ & tissue transport): 
MANNED 24 / 7 / 365 
TOLL FREE NUMBER: (800) 851-3051 
COMMERCIAL NUMBER: (850) 283-5955 
  • For All Other Mission Requests (Includes immediate response missions to prevent human suffering or to mitigate great property damage as well as "routine” missions): 
MANNED 24 / 7 / 365 
TOLL FREE NUMBER: (888) 211-1812, Ext 300 
COMMERCIAL NUMBER: (334) 953-3922, Ext 300 
MILITARY DSN NUMBER: 493-3922, Ext 300 

If CAP-NOC Not Reachable (For CONUS and PR immediate response missions only): 
TOLL FREE NUMBER: (800) 896-8806 (Tyndall AFB Operator) 
COMMERCIAL NUMBER: (850) 283-5880 

MANNED 24 / 7 / 365 
TOLL FREE NUMBER: (800) 896-8806 (Tyndall AFB Operator) 
COMMERCIAL NUMBER: (850) 283-5573 


  • Typically $120 - $160 per hour of flight time, depending on aircraft used. 
  • Specialized sensors such as Aerial Digital Imaging System (ADIS) or Airborne Real-Time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance imaging system (ARCHER) incur additional cost. Contact CAP National Operations Center (CAP-NOC) for more information. 
  • Reimbursement of lodging / meals expenses usually required for volunteers deploying for multi-day / multi-location missions. 
  • For Air Force assigned missions (i.e. federal missions), CAP members receive Federal Employees' Compensation Act / Federal Tort Claims Act (FECA / FTCA) benefits. These benefits normally do not apply to missions performed for state or local entities, unless the missions are specifically approved in advance by the Air Force. For missions executed solely for state or local entities, these entities are expected to provide their equivalent of FECA / FTCA benefit coverage for CAP personnel and equipment if allowed by state law. 
  • Contact the CAP-NOC for more details and information on specific mission types.

Legal Issues & LEA Support

  • CAP can provide a variety of assistance to LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies), especially when an LEA is tasked with missions that are not truly enforcement (i.e. SAR) 
  • CAP can provide limited LEA transportation support (subject to FAA reimbursement rules): 
  • CAP may transport LEAs to attend planning meetings and to do aerial surveys in support of mission planning. 
  • CAP may not transport prisoners or contraband, though there are some exceptions for contraband as long as the LEA maintains the chain of custody. 
  • CAP may not transport LEAs in direct support of an ongoing operational mission. 
  • CAP may not transport when hostilities are imminent. 
  • CAP personnel may make spot reports of suspicious activities to LEAs, but cannot direct LEA activities. 
  • Posse Comitatus applies for all USAF assigned or approved missions. Although it does not apply to CAP corporate missions, CAP has similar restrictions to protect members. 
  • CAP personnel cannot be involved in the search, seizure, detention, interrogation, or arrest of people or property. 
  • CAP can often provide airborne reconnaissance to provide photos of a crime scene or to help LEAs develop future plans. 
  • CAP can assist with searches for missing persons not believed to be in the custody of criminals.