The Civil Air Patrol was called out to a search early today for a plane that turned out to not be missing after all. A pilot who left Hampton, Iowa Tuesday afternoon had failed to turn up in Green Bay, Wisconsin — the destination named in his flight plan. The search was called off once it was determined the pilot had not crashed but simply landed at an airport other than his destination and forgot to call a Flight Service office to let them know before the plane was reported missing. The C-A-P’s Doug Janssen says the group is ready to handle these types of search-and-rescue missions.Nationally, it has the country’s largest “fleet” of single-engine planes, 550 light aircraft, and does search-and-rescue, homeland security and disaster relief. When there’s a problem in Iowa, Janssen says the State Emergency Management Division at Camp Dodge will alert the civil air patrol if its service is needed. The C-A-P can call on resources throughout Iowa as well as adjoining states, and whether there’s someone who’s walked away from a nursing home or a missing airplane, he says the civil air patrol can have aircraft in the air and people on the ground within an hour, and they also help local agencies. Federal funding helps train C-A-P volunteers, who number 65-thousand nationwide. When C-A-P goes out to support local agencies in disaster or flood-relief operations, he says their service is free and the best you can get from a “low, slow-flying air force,” which he describes as “the eyes of the home skies.” Janssen says volunteers from range from doctors to folks who work at the local service station, and are concerned local people who know the fear of wondering if a loved one is missing. He says those volunteers are trained so they have special skills they can pull out when needed, and compares them to volunteer firefighters — instead of answering fire calls, they go out and find people.
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