What was the issue that made you start up this project?
The Civil Air Patrol in the USA is a large and successful civil
aid organisation, fundamental to their resilience plans - but
nothing similar existed in the UK, in spite of a thriving general
Who was involved and what did they do?
Many private pilots in theUK have extensive operational
experience from the military, police and civil aviation.
These are ideal qualifications to allow them to integrate with
emergency agencies and to train less experienced fellow pilots and
Although a national organisation, two units of the Sky Watch
Civil Air Patrol (so named to distinguish ourselves from the US
CAP) were formed to cover Scotland. Both groups now operate a wide
selection of aircraft types, flown by pilots and observers who
train regularly and take part in exercises and operations with
What worked well?
Constant recruitment shows a willingness to get involved from
the private pilot community and others keen to help as
Initially tentative involvement of aerial assets by user
agencies is gradually turning mindsets to the full potential of air
support as and when it is required. The CAP is now becoming a
primary consideration among planners and operatives within the
What did you learn?
It takes time for a new concept to be adopted and trusted
Adoption only comes by persuasive demonstration of capability and
trust, by demonstrating a robust, well organised and supervised
In the absence of consistent external funding, it is not always
easy to maintain motivation among a volunteer group, for whom
participation means considerable personal expense.
What made it work?
Selecting the right people to set up the new organisation and
the willingness of volunteers to get involved and place their
aircraft and time at the disposal of the community.
Willingness by user agencies to accept and integrate with a new
capability and to tailor their operations accordingly when
Contact: Archie Liggat, Chief Pilot 24 Unit Sky Watch Civil Air
Patrol. Tel: 07748 145 376. Email: email@example.com