Washington Civil Air Patrol Members Test Crisis Response in Statewide Exercise: “The Perfect Storm”
By Capt Jessica Jerwa and Lt Col Jeffrey A. Lustick, Washington Wing Public Affairs, published June 22, 2017

McCHORD FIELD, Wash.
– Civil Air Patrol members from around the state are participating in a multi-day training exercise this weekend, beginning Thursday, June 22, and concluding Sunday, June 25. The Pierce County Airport-Thun Field (PLU) in Puyallup, Wash., will serve as the mission base, while five remote staging areas will be activated across the state including Yakima, Spokane, Walla Walla, Bellingham, and Vancouver.

According to Colonel James Furlong, Commander of Washington Wing, “We are calling it the ‘Perfect Storm,’ and it is a training exercise to test the readiness of our local members and to employ our aircraft, aircrews, and emergency services teams to assist state and national organizations during a simulated state-level emergency. We don’t really know what twists and turns the training mission will be dealt to us until it happens.”

This weekend’s exercise will be directly overseen by a field evaluation team from the U.S. Air Force and could include various hypothetical scenarios ranging from simulated natural disasters, crashed aircraft, to terrorism incidents. “We look forward to these exercises all year,” Colonel Furlong added.

Responsibilities for CAP members working in the exercise will include ground search and rescue, airborne reconnaissance and photography, as well high-frequency radio communications. CAP Cessna aircraft will fly missions from around the state.

While specific details of the exercise are sparse in advance of the exercise, Incident Commander Major Brett Knapp, notes that simply the name of the exercise infers it will be a busy weekend, “a ‘Perfect Storm’ is a particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors, which in this context could include simulated events such as wildfires, earthquakes, missing aircraft or hikers, and more.”

Adult and youth members of the Washington Wing Civil Air Patrol regularly take part in homeland security and disaster preparedness exercises and response missions, assisting local, state and national organizations with crisis and terrorism preparedness. Most recently, Washington Wing members participated in OPERATION ARDENT SENTRY, which was part of the region-wide Cascadia Rising 9.0 earthquake simulation. CAP members worked alongside mission specialists from the Washington National Guard, FEMA, and many county sheriff’s offices.


Washington Wing will fly several missions for their disaster response exercise: "The Perfect Storm" (CAP photo/1st Lt Scott Story)


Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 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 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in STEM/aerospace education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

Locally, Washington volunteers operate a fleet of 23 vehicles and 14 aircraft (Cessna 172s, 182s, and a 206, as well as 2 Blanik gliders) for inland search and rescue missions and cadet orientation flight instruction. The wing is comprised of 744 adult members (ages 18+) and 626 cadets (ages 12-21), organized into 27 squadrons, who contributed a value of $4.9 million in volunteer hours to their local communities and the citizens of Washington in 2016. Visit www.wawg.cap.gov for more information.