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South Dakota Wing

Missions fulfill community needs

Since the early 2000s the wing has maintained a unique partnership with South Dakota State University. Wing pilots fly students and researchers who track wildlife of the rugged Black Hills, while simultaneously sharpening their own knowledge of the area. Knowing the quirks of the terrain has proven invaluable during fires, floods and snowstorms.

In 2008, when thunderstorms sparked wildfires in the state, CAP pilots took firefighters airborne to direct retardant-carrying aircraft. Volunteers also assisted the state Office of Emergency Management with the wing’s Argus Geo-inspired aerial imaging system, which was developed for Civil Air Patrol’s North Central Region. Wing members again sprung into action to conduct aerial photography and surveillance during historic Missouri River flooding in 2011.

In 2013, Winter Storm Atlas blew into the state with near-hurricane force winds, dumping heavy snow on the Black Hills region. CAP volunteers, flying some of the longest sorties in wing history, conducted aerial searches for elk hunters and provided airborne photography. They took more than 400 geotagged photos, which helped federal and state officials estimate that 15,000 to 30,000 livestock had died — a projected $1.5 billion loss to the state’s economy.

Cadets from the wing’s Big Sioux Composite Squadron distinguished themselves by taking home the Cyber Forensics championship hardware during CyberPatriot IV. They followed that win in 2013 by snagging the inaugural CISCO Networking Award.

Geotagged photos like this one, taken by South Dakota Wing aircrews after a rare October blizzard in 2013, helped federal and state officials estimate livestock losses.
Geotagged photos like this one, taken by South Dakota Wing aircrews after a rare October blizzard in 2013, helped federal and state officials estimate livestock losses.
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