St Andrews Optimists recently heard an overview of the mission and activities of the South Carolina Civil Air Patrol. The speaker was Col. Lee Safley.

C.A.P.’s motto is “Always Vigilant for America.” C.A.P. was formed December 1, 1941, and current-day  activities of the Patrol range from search and rescue missions, support during natural disasters, to nurturing and developing cadets, most of whom come from  area high schools.

The South Carolina organization is roughly composed of 60 percent adults and 40 percent cadets, making up the 19 statewide squadrons. Participants range in age  from 12 to 98, so it is obviously an activity for all ages. Col. Safley shared a few impressive statistics with the Optimists. Among them were: (1)national membership numbering 60,000; (2) 560 single engine aircraft in service; (3) 1,265 search and rescue missions completed in 2016; (4) 92 lives saved directly attributable to C.A.P.’s efforts in 2016; (5) five search and rescue missions completed in South Carolina thus far in 2017. South Carolina has 19 active squadrons, with over 800 members. The most intensive missions in recent years have been weather-related: Hurricane Matthew, which involved over 100 ground and crew members, and the 2015 flood which involved 190 members.

C.A.P. is heavily involved with its cadets, striving to teach them leadership skills and problem solving. Cadets advance through a 16 step personal development program. Funding comes from two primary sources: the U.S. Air Force for ongoing activities and training, and FEMA during times when the Patrol becomes a tool in managing disaster rescues. During those rescues, C.A.P. partners with the Air Force where the low and slow Patrol aircraft capabilities are crucial.

Pictured are Gary Dobson, Optimist President, Col. Safley, and Optimist Jim Turner, the week’s speaker host.