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Airport Archives: Little Known CAP Work To Save Lives

Little-known CAP works to save lives
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 aerospace education.

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 junior members.

“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 without.

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.”



Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport
16384 Airport Rd, Suite 5 · Brainerd, MN 56401-5852 · 218-825-2166