The Rhode Island wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) earned the rating of “Mission Ready” status after a U.S. Air Force evaluation team reviewed the completion of tasks in an exercise that spanned multiple days and ended on July 13.
According to Lt. Col. Bob Gubala, an earlier evaluation was conducted in November of last year, with the main event happening last weekend. These tests are held biennially, and are for all 52 CAP wings in the United States, including all 50 proper states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The tests are scheduled on a rotating basis. The Air Force evaluation team did a series of readiness tests, which meant that the wing was not told what would be in the exercise. This time, the Rhode Island wing was tasked with numerous directions at once, including taking airborne photos of the Newport Bridge to simulate a damage or impact assessment.
They also had to track a planted missing person situation in Westerly, as well as a downed glider. The Rhode Island air crew – consisting of two aircraft, a Cessna-172 and a Cessna-182 – flew the missions, while the ground crew was comprised of seven vehicles, all owned by the Rhode Island Wing.
The Air Force also sprung “interjections” on the crew, according to Gubala. These consisted of challenges such as suddenly shutting off all cell phones, requiring the team to communicate by telephone and radio. These were all designed to test the readiness and stress management of the team.
After passing these tests, the USAF bestowed the “Mission Ready” status upon the wing, indicating it is prepared for rescue and auxiliary Air Force situations.
The national CAP is credited with saving 102 lives in 2019 as of Tuesday, according to Gubala. The CAP operates around 560 aircraft and over 1,000 vehicles nationwide, with over 63,000 volunteers and 25,000 youth in the cadet program, aged 12 to 20.
According to the CAP website, the organization was founded in 1941. The Rhode Island Wing has over 140 cadets and adult members operating from four locations across Rhode Island.