Virginia CAP’s 75 years of service multifaceted
The Virginia Wing undertook its largest ever mission in 2008, helping fight the Great Dismal Swamp Fire in southeast Virginia. The 26-day mission, involving 4,000 acres and requiring 440 flight hours, eight planes, 174 sorties and 75 CAP pilots and command center volunteers, was completed without a single injury, accident or incident. Pilots flew at 100 mph for three hours at a time at an altitude of a few thousand feet to maintain optimal communications repeater function.
During October 1952 forest wildfires, pilots helped spot new fires and ground personnel worked around the clock relaying on-the-spot reports and assistance requests. The wing also assisted during 1957 floods, Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, four major hurricanes in 2004, locating stranded victims, searching for missing aircraft, ferrying emergency officials, providing visual reconnaissance, transporting supplies, manning emergency operations centers and shelters and providing radio communications.
Hurricane Donna in 1960, with winds in excess of 100 mph, brought power outages, uprooted trees, washed out roads, disrupted communications and left communities isolated. The Virginia Wing provided emergency power and communications systems, directed traffic, guarded against live wires, cleared fallen trees off streets and loaned its trailer-mounted generator to the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co.
After 2008 tornadoes destroyed many homes, pilots provided aerial photography and damage assessments and ferried National Weather Service meteorologists. Wing volunteers also manned the state’s Emergency Operations Center after 9/11.