You might not have ever heard of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) but they are actually a volunteer auxiliary arm of the U.S. Air Force.
CAP does everything from looking for downed planes to surveying severe weather damage. In fact, it was the Civil Air Patrol that actually located the single engine plane that crashed northeast of Birmingham on February 15, 2014.
"One of our crews was dispatched to search the area, and was actually the first aircraft to locate the crash site," said Donnie Todd, Director of Operations for the Civil Air Patrol's Alabama Wing.
When tornados ripped through Alabama April 27, 2011 there were CAP planes patrolling the skies.
"The aircraft were actually dispatched to start getting some damage assessment because you could actually see the swath of damage all the way from Tuscaloosa to Shoal Creek there was very little break in that," said Todd.
CAP also worked the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, spending hundreds of man hours on the coast.
"Assessing the damage, the magnitude of the oil spill, and keeping tabs of where the oil was and where it wasn't. It was the all time largest mission for civil air patrol," said Todd.
The Civil Air Patrol's headquarters is at Alabama's Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.
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