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http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Air_Patrol

For those not yet familiar with the Civil Air Patrol (aka CAP) it was founded 12/1/1941 following several less successful attempts to establish national aviation organizations in the 1930s like the Junior Birdmen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_Birdmen now mostly remembered for a parody of their song.  http://makingmusicfun.net/htm/f_mmf_music_library_songbook/up_in_th...

After WW II CAP was made the official auxiliary of the USAF and is still active today teaching aerospace, training cadets (12-21 years old), and doing search & rescue as well as other emergency services. 

The top picture is my squadron including the 1947 vintage Dehavilland Beaver: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Canada_DHC-2_Beaver 

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Last September (Friday) the 13th we were called out on a mission to give an example of what CAP might do.  A Piper Cherokee Six (uncomfortably similar to my Cherokee) went missing just past Yakutat on the way to the Anchorage bowl. 

Yakutat is a couple hours flight away roughly between us and Anchorage squadrons so it was a large scale and intense search.  These pictures sort of sum up the community of Yakutat.

That giant WW II hangar is one of the ultimate man-lands.  It houses an outfitter wear store, a fly shop, a movie theatre, several 4x4s and boats, as well as two planes.  WW II vintage DC-3s aka Goonie Birds.  We were in the grey and white Cessan 206. 

Yes, this is a forest growing on top of an icefield. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogYkK8HYHQY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT7q7fzhByc 

Sadly, we did not find a trace of the missing Piper. 

Some WW II era CAP pictures.

We just had a loooong ELT (distress beacon) search yesterday.  We had to use ground and aircraft mounted direction finding (DF) equipment as well as cadet youth, energy, and enthusiasm.  It turned out not to be a crash but rather the ELT out of a 1947 Taylorcraft which was being restored for sale:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylorcraft_Aircraft  These ELTs have a shock/crash sensor which went off when someone rough handled it and could have masked a real crashed aircraft's signal for days or weeks until the batteries ran out completely. 

Someone donated a 7/8 scale kitplane version of this French WW I Nieuport fighter to our CAP squadron.  He was a serious modeler and figured that he had graduated to a 7/8 scale flyable model but that did not work out that well for him.  He did Assemble and paint the Lewis Gun.

Anyway, the kit has been hanging up in the hangar rafters for a while (a lot of very cool things can be found hanging in hangar rafters) since no one wants to commit to taking responsibility for building and flying the first 40 hours off per FARs to make her a real, legal airplane.  It will be a lot of work including a quarter mile of baseball stitching to make her flyable then after flying off the required 40 hours this CAP member volunteer will not be the owner.  Due to CAP regulations we would probably have to sell the finished plane but might be able to give the builder first dibs.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nieuport_17

This is great stuff, Captain! Gorgous images. I about fell in love with AK when I went up there for work a few years' back and I absolutely love seaplanes, so I think you're in my dream job. CAP up in Alaska must be a full time job. Alas my wife would never survive the winters (too dark for too long).

Hello Tony,

I have a fairly mundane (at least by Alaska standards) day job.  I have to pay for the privilege of volunteering with CAP.  Your wife my surprise you and herself by liking it here.  It is sort of a dry dark after all. 

We had to camp out in the Polaris Squadron hangar on Merrill Field (Anchorage) where there are acres and acres of odd planes including seaplanes and floats.  I have heard that Hood Lake on the other side of Anchorage has had at least 60% of the world's float planes land on it at some point.  You would have liked it there.  I am currently content to stick to wheels. 

Have you checked out the Virginia Wing page to see what CAP is doing around you?  http://www.govirginiawingcap.com/ ;

Cap'n Tony said:

This is great stuff, Captain! Gorgous images. I about fell in love with AK when I went up there for work a few years' back and I absolutely love seaplanes, so I think you're in my dream job. CAP up in Alaska must be a full time job. Alas my wife would never survive the winters (too dark for too long).

The plan was to use a C-130 to transport our CAP cadets back from Encampment at JBER near Anchorage this past Monday.  Encampment is basically a ten day mini-boot camp with marching, PT, hospital corners, spit shining, mess halls, bear spray, meromites, F-22s, high wires, obstacle courses, working dogs,  Blackhawks, gliders, and military VR simulators.

The C-130 was running late due to maintenance.  We were almost to the first stop in Sitka when the plane filled up with smoke.  Many of the cadets (12-18 years old) were asleep when they were suddenly woken up to put on EPOSs.  These emergency oxygen systems are basically amber colored bags that you pull over your head.  The small cylinder uses a chemical reaction to produce "5-55 minutes of breathable O2."  This means that as the pressurization was released in the C-130 and it got COLD at 21,000' over Alaska, the hood is heating up uncomfortably.  Who knew.  The crew decided to descend rapidly below 10,000' so that pressurization would not be required and return to Anchorage rather than get stuck in Sitka overnight waiting for maintenance.  We could have grabbed a Ferry home to Juneau from there. 

The problem with descending below 10,000' is that there is basically a 250(k)mph "speed limit" so it took longer to get back.  Then the final descent which caused most of the passengers pain in their ears, heads, sinuses, long lasting headaches, nose bleeds, and one older cadet passed out.  I have been through the Altitude/torture Chamber and did not experience these problems.

Fortunately cadets are tough and we tried again the next day.  This C-130 had visible daylight coming through cracks so it had to remain below 10,000' while full of cadets who were barely over the previous day's fun with pressure.   In mid flight the crew decided to change the first stop to Sitka to pick up a huge pie order.  For those uncultured souls reading this, one of Sitka's great claims is that the airport restaurant sells the world's best pie.  I splurged on a couple pies for the cadets to eat on the flight (chewing helps relieve ear pressure). 

We are home intact but my ears still have not quite cleared. 

Adventure and pie.  What more could you ask for????

Sadly, we do not have any B-17 SAR birds left that I am aware of. 

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