Civil Air Patrol Drills In Tulsa

Saturday, September 16th 2006, 5:51 pm
By: News On 6

Members of Oklahoma's Civil Air Patrol, which specializes in search and rescue operations, spent Saturday afternoon honing their skills.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright spent the day with the trainees.

Civil Air Patrol members say proper training makes all the difference during life and death situations. So they were taking Saturday's exercise very seriously.

One year ago, Oklahoma's Civil Air Patrol was taking off from runaways in Louisiana.

The CAP spent ten days helping with the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Members say they were prepared for that mission because of training exercises like the one held Saturday morning at Jones Riverside Airport in Jenks.

Major John Phelps with the Civil Air Patrol: "We practice with intensity, and when we get the mission we go out and fiercely attack that also, so they're super important."

The Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer organization, and these training sessions often require six months of planning.

There is a lot of manpower here, 9 of these planes will take off and 120 people are taking part in the exercise. Anyone is eligible to join, from teenagers. Cadet William Bassett: "I enjoy helping people." To more experienced pilots.

In order to remain a part of the organization though, everyone must demonstrate their skills during training.

Major Jodie Gilbert with the Civil Air Patrol: "Our people could be responsible for saving someone's life, we want to make sure they're current, they're qualified, they're trained, and they're up to speed."

In order to see if they were up to speed, CAP members took to the skies to deal with a number of mock situations, a missing airplane, missing hikers, power lines downed from a tornado. Major Jodie Gilbert: "we want to keep it as real a scenario as possible."

The CAP faced a very real scenario following Katrina, and its members say they could not have succeeded without proper training.

Major John Phelps: "you're prepared for it, you can go off and execute it real easily."

The Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol has 800 members across the state, and 62,000 members nationwide.

The CAP actually performs 95 percent of the inland search and rescue missions in the U.S.