South Dakota Wing of Civil Air Patrol Trains at Sioux Falls Airport
The South Dakota wing of the Civil Air Patrol is resting after a long day of training at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
There’s 300 Civil Air Patrol team members in South Dakota, just like David Small.
“We’re kind of a big family,” said Small, a wing commander.
The South Dakota Civil Air Patrol trains about six or seven times per year, preparing for a sudden search and rescue, even though it sounds like they have already seen it all.
“We go out and work on search and rescue. Everything from a crashed airplane- we’ll look for it as fast as we can – to people with Alzheimer’s that might wander and get lost,” said Small.
The job doesn’t exactly pay well,in fact, it doesn’t pay at all.
“ We enjoy it,” said Small. “We’re volunteers. Nobody gets paid for this.”
That’s right. For his day job, Small works with a dental supply company, but while he’s not saving up money with this job, he’s saving lives.
“What makes this all pay off is when we actually do save a life, when you get that call at midnight and you find something three hours later that many people are out searching for,” Small said.
Many top-tier commercial pilots are also eager to volunteer their time.
“Professionals, you would have to pay them and a hundred something dollars an hour, and they’re here on Saturday morning at 7am doing this for free because they enjoy it and they have a sense of contribution,” Small said.
The United States Air Force is funding and monitoring today’s training, but they’re a non-profit team. These South Dakotans even helped during Hurricane Harvey.
“Just being able to be apart of a program that’s bigger than yourself,” said Lieutenant Jerry Hayden.
While the lifesaving work may not pay in cash, the friendships are priceless.
“You know, you kind of develop a group of friendships that you can have that common bond of aviation,” said Hayden.
The volunteers range from ages 12 to 90.