SALEM – As smoke clears from western Oregon, Civil Air Patrol is sending pilots and specially trained aircrews to assist in efforts to recover from devastating wildfires again today.
CAP is tasked with photographing key infrastructure from the air to help assess fire damage. Aircrews have a mission pilot, an observer and an airborne photographer and are taking on assignments over the Archie, Beavercreek and Echo Mountain wildfires.
“Our hearts go out to all of those affected by the fires,” said Brig. Gen. William D. Betts, vice commander, 1st Air Force. “We are confident in the skills of these selfless, dedicated CAP volunteers who contribute so much to both the local community response and the wider federal effort.”
Using high-resolution digital cameras, the CAP aircrews produced more than 900 images Sept. 19th for emergency operations. Eight flights were flown Friday and five Saturday as smoke cleared and showers dissipated. CAP pilots still face tricky conditions in some areas with smoke, low clouds and aircraft not involved in the organized efforts.
CAP planes based in Hillsboro, Redmond and Salem as well as Vancouver, Washington participated in the fly-overs. More than 36 CAP volunteers have organized the flying and recording activities.
At last count, the Oregon Wing has 290 adult volunteers who train vigorously each year to take on emergencies like the unprecedented onslaught of wildfires that have burned more than 1 million acres this year and thousands of structures and displaced huge numbers of Oregonians. The wing also has 247 young cadet members, who train in leadership, character development, physical fitness and citizenship. Many cadets train in emergency services as well and participate in ground search and rescue and detecting emergency signals emitted by aircraft in distress.
Squadron locations and contact information can be found at https://orwg.cap.gov.