Service marked by unusual emergencies, disaster relief
The service of Civil Air Patrol’s Oklahoma Wing has been marked by response to unusually major crises.
Most recent was the Moore tornado mission. Just south of Oklahoma City, Moore was hit in 2013 by consecutive tornadoes, the first one an EF5 that left a 17-mile swath of destruction. In addition to the wing’s usual search-and-rescue work and communications and logistics support, the major task became photography — not just aerial photography to help assess the scope of the damage, but also ground photography. The goal, amid all the chaos, was to properly identify and document property damage so recovery money could be distributed. The wing’s ingenious solution involved overlaying aerial photo tracks and Google Earth images from before the storms, thereby providing the CAP photographers with a GPS-aided grid map.
In 1995 communications was the wing’s critical contribution after the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. With intentional curtailment of activity on local phone lines and cell towers to give emergency communications priority, wing members working out of the Emergency Operations Center provided communication links among ground emergency personnel as well as statewide connectivity.
Media reports as far back as 1951 showcase the wing’s creativity and dogged service. That year a CAP pilot, unsuccessful through other means, buzzed a bridge over the Neosho River, swollen with raging floodwaters, to force scores of onlookers off the span just before it collapsed.