Little-known CAP works to save lives
By CHERYL COUTURE
People Section Editor, Brainerd Daily Dispatch
The Brainerd Crow Wing Civil Air Patrol has been
in existence for almost 40 years, yet little is
known about this volunteer organization.
According to Ronald and Charlotte Frink of
Brainerd, both pilots and longtime members of
the Brainerd unit, the Civil Air Patrol was
established nationally in 1941 and is a civilian
auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
Its three purposes, they said, are 1) search and
rescue, 2) promoting the cadet program (the
junior portion of the CAP), and 3) promoting
The local unit of the CAP, which is
headquartered at the Brainerd-Crow Wing County
Airport, currently has about 50 to 55 members,
Mrs. Frink, present commander of the Brainerd
unit, said. Fourteen of those members, she
added, are “active seniors.”
Frink, a former Brainerd unit commander, said
CAP’s primary purpose is locating lost people
(either by ground or air searches), but
explained that with today’s increased technology
and better-equipped aircraft radios, the Civil
Air Patrol is not as involved with search and
rescue missions as it once was.
The organization is now involved mostly with the
cadet program, he said, noting that the CAP has
a “very extensive” training program for the
“We’re not as busy as we used to be,” Frink
said, pointing out that in the past, the
Brainerd unit has been involved in numerous
rescue missions—some with happy endings and some
He recalled one incident when he and other CAP
members were searching for a lost partridge
hunter, who, confused and frightened, began
shooting at them. Luckily, Frink explained, the
hunter soon realized they were trying to help
him and nobody was hurt.
“We’ve been involved with so many searches
(usually with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s
Department),” he said, adding that the CAP also
works with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
“We’re on call all the time.”
Frink pointed out that the Brainerd unit has one
aircraft “which our local members purchased and
paid for ourselves.” Purchased four years ago,
the aircraft cost $17,500.
The Frinks, who have been continuous members of
the Brainerd unit for the past 25 years, said
they enjoy their volunteer work and feel it is
beneficial to the community.
“It’s been rewarding… You enjoy it anytime you
can help other people,” Frink said.
He added: “People are so appreciative of knowing
whether or not their loved ones are dead of
alive; just so they’re able to know.”