Critical search and rescue missions performed
On March 27, 1964, an earthquake 10,000 times stronger than the Hiroshima atomic bomb rocked south-central Alaska. In all, 139 lives were lost, homes were shaken from their foundations and highways were left impassable. CAP responded to the chaos in less than hour with Operation Quakelift, a 57-day support and recovery mission. Members rescued 50 stranded individuals, airlifted hay to starving livestock and delivered a half-million pounds of emergency food and medicine to isolated communities.
In October 1972, a twin-engine Cessna carrying U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La., took off from Anchorage International Airport. The plane disappeared shortly after the pilot reported a turbulent wind tunnel over the Portage glacier. In the longest search operation in CAP history, units began searching in near-zero visibility on Oct. 16. Over open sea, glaciers and mountains, CAP flew more than 1,000 hours searching for the downed aircraft. The search was suspended 39 days later.
When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker hit a reef on March 24, 1989, an estimated 11 million-28 million gallons of crude spilled into Prince William Sound. Some 80 CAP members flew more than 200 hours in the first weeks of the response, collecting photos, ferrying environmental officials from Anchorage to Valdez and plotting the spill’s movement. The spill covered 2,300 square miles of water and 800 miles of coastline.