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CAP ramps up flight schedule for aerial photos, asks members  to help evaluate flooding images through crowdsourcing

posted Oct 8, 2015, 11:37 AM by Matt Hamrick


October 8, 2015

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Civil Air Patrol has made 81 flights so far this week, spending 156 hours in the sky above flood-drenched South Carolina. The flights are being made in response to deadly rain that Gov. Nikki Haley is calling a “thousand-year” event, which has already claimed 17 lives.

Aircrews from Civil Air Patrol’s South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Maryland wings are scheduled to fly eight more sorties this morning. The airmen are tasked with taking aerial photos of the flooding for emergency officials on the ground. The images, taken with CAP’s geotagging-capable cameras, provide the officials with real-time information that helps them assess damages and assign critical response resources. 

“As you can well imagine from seeing all that has been in the news over the last several days, our South Carolina Wing personnel, as well as members from neighboring wings and regions, are assisting in the disaster relief efforts there, and doing great work,” said John Desmarais, director of operations at CAP National Headquarters, in an email directive to CAP commanders and staff Wednesday night.

In the directive, commanders were encouraged to ask CAP members in their wings to assist Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters GIS staff in reviewing the images through online crowdsourcing tools fielded by crisis mapping volunteers via FEMA’s GeoPlatform.

“We know many of you want to help even at a distance,” said Desmarais. “If you could encourage your members to go to, click on Image Ranking, follow the instructions and take the time to review some imagery, we’d really appreciate it. This crowdsourcing helps FEMA make many decisions and helps people in the affected areas, so any help is appreciated.”

In November 2012, on the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy prompted a similar response from CAP wings both inside and outside the affected areas. In all, 21 wings from CAP’s Middle East, Northeast and Great Lakes regions conducted 696 flights totaling 1,407 hours and uploaded 158,012 geotagged images for FEMA. For the first time, the images were evaluated through crowdsourcing in order to obtain quick and effective assessments as imagery was uploaded.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 58,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its Airmen additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Civil Air Patrol received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. Congressionally chartered 74 years ago, the nonprofit organization also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.

CAP contact:
Capt. Matthew D. Hamrick, South Carolina Wing Public Affairs Officer – – 843-693-4700