CAP aircrews take to the skies along South Carolina’s eastern coast

(l to r) Col. Francis Smith, South Carolina Wing commander, Lt. Col. Billy Geier, incident commander, and Col. David Kantor, Kentucky Wing commander, review the mission sorties for the day. (Photo by Lt. Col. Brenda Reed, MDWG)

(l to r) Col. Francis Smith, South Carolina Wing commander, Lt. Col. Billy Geier, incident commander, and Col. David Kantor, Kentucky Wing commander, review the mission sorties for the day. (Photo by Lt. Col. Brenda Reed, MDWG)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Civil Air Patrol's South Carolina Wing began disaster-relief flights today in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state agencies as recovery efforts ramp up in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. North Carolina Wing will begin sorties on Monday, as high winds prevented flights today.

In South Carolina, CAP aircrews flew sorties all day around the coastal region of the state, east of Interstate 95 from Myrtle Beach in the north to Hilton Head in the south. Crews conducted aerial damage assessment, including checking dams, bridges and other critical infrastructure, while also looking for any signs of stranded individuals or livestock. While some areas of the coast appeared minimally damaged, other parts experienced extensive damage caused by flooding and downed trees.

Boats are piled up next to the marina at Palmetto Bay on Hilton Head Island. (Photo by 2nd Lt. David Wallach, SCWG)

Boats are piled up next to the marina at Palmetto Bay on Hilton Head Island. (Photo by 2nd Lt. David Wallach, SCWG)

North Carolina Wing planned aerial photography sorties to begin Monday to assess the hurricane’s impact on natural resources and infrastructure. Additionally, the wing is planning Points of Distribution missions in eastern North Carolina.

Some of the many South Carolina members participating in the mission have come from the affected areas, opting to serve their communities during this time of personal loss. Members from other CAP wings flew into South Carolina to support the mission and provide needed relief for the local members, who worked for days before Hurricane Matthew actually arrived. Maryland Wing sent two aircrews and incident command post staff, with additional teams expected to arrive on Monday.

Four members from Kentucky and Indiana wings in CAP's Great Lakes Region flew a GA8 Airvan to assist with the mission. Col. David Kantor, Kentucky Wing commander, was pleased that his members could acquire some experience in a federal mission.

“This is the first national mission Kentucky members have had a part in for more than five years,” Kantor said. “Putting their training to use is important, and we are honored to be here.”

Kantor trained at CAP’s National Emergency Services Academy in Indiana with several South Carolina Wing members, so a network and bond already existed.

South Carolina Wing will continue its aerial damage assessment flights on Monday as more crews from around the region arrive to assist. Aircrews will provide state government officials a view of the devastated areas from CAP aircraft.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.

###