Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Air Force Rescue Coordination Center

Air Force Rescue Coordination Center

Ask a question about 'Air Force Rescue Coordination Center'
Start a new discussion about 'Air Force Rescue Coordination Center'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
As the United States' inland search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (SAR) coordinator, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal SAR activities in the United States, including Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Some of the AFRCC's more notable missions include the search for John F. Kennedy Jr., the Payne Stewart mishap
1999 South Dakota Learjet crash
On October 25, 1999, a chartered Learjet 35 was scheduled to fly from Orlando, Florida to Dallas, Texas. Early in the flight the aircraft, which was cruising at altitude on autopilot, gradually lost cabin pressure. As a result, all on board were incapacitated due to hypoxia— a lack of oxygen...

, the September 11th terrorist attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, the Space Shuttle Columbia crash
Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members...

 and, more recently, the search for world-record setting adventurer Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett
James Stephen Fossett was an American commodities trader, businessman, and adventurer. Fossett is the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon...



Located at Tyndall Air Force Base
Tyndall Air Force Base
Tyndall Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base located east of Panama City, Florida. The base was named in honor of World War I pilot 1st Lt Frank Benjamin Tyndall...

, Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, the AFRCC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center directly ties in to the Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

's alerting system and the United States Mission Control Center.


In addition to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations, which can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America. When a distress call is received, the center investigates the request, coordinates with federal, state, and local officials, and determines the type and scope of response necessary. Once verified as an actual distress situation, the AFRCC requests support from the appropriate federal SAR force. This may include Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported, non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force . CAP is a volunteer organization with an aviation-minded membership that includes people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and...

, United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, or other Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 assets, as needed. State agencies can be contacted for state, local, or civil SAR resource assistance within their jurisdiction. The AFRCC chooses the rescue force based on availability and capability of forces, geographic location, terrain, weather conditions, and urgency of the situation.

During ongoing SAR missions, the center serves as the communications hub and provides coordination and assistance to on-scene commanders or mission coordinators in order to recover the mission's objective in the safest and most effective manner possible. AFRCC uses state-of-the-art technology including a network of satellites for monitoring emergency locator transmitter signals. Systems such as these help reduce the critical time required to locate and recover people in distress. The AFRCC also formulates and manages SAR plans, agreements and policies throughout the continental United States. Additionally, it presents a mobile Search Management Course to Civil Air Patrol wings throughout the United States, to produce qualified incident commanders thus improving national SAR capability.

The AFRCC also assigns instructors to the National SAR School at the United States Coast Guard Training Center, Yorktown, Virginia The instructors teach the Inland Search and Rescue Class throughout the United States and at many worldwide military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 locations. This joint school is designed for civilian and military personnel from federal, state, local and volunteer organizations, all of who are responsible for SAR mission planning. Search and rescue missions include a variety of missions: searches for lost hunters, hikers, or Alzheimer's patients, sources of emergency locator transmitter signals, and missing aircraft. The center frequently dispatches rescue assets to provide aid and transportation to people needing medical attention in remote or isolated areas, for emergency organ or blood transportation, or for medical evacuations, when civilian resources are not available.

The United States Coast Guard is responsible for Search and Rescue missions over water and operates similar Rescue Coordination Centers in each of its districts.


Prior to 1974, the Air Force divided the continental United States into three regions, each with a separate rescue center. In May of that year, the Air Force consolidated the three centers into one facility at Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force in St. Clair County, Illinois, near Belleville.-Overview:The base is named after Corporal Frank S. Scott, the first enlisted person to be killed in an aviation crash...

, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. This provided better coordination of activities, improved communications and economy of operations, and standardized procedures. The newly formed center permitted operations with fewer people, while creating a more experienced staff. In 1993, the AFRCC relocated to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, when Air Combat Command
Air Combat Command
Air Combat Command is a major command of the United States Air Force. ACC is one of ten major commands , reporting to Headquarters, United States Air Force ....

 assumed responsibility for Air Force peacetime and combat SAR. In October 2003, the AFRCC was realigned under the Air Force Special Operations Command
Air Force Special Operations Command
Air Force Special Operations Command is the Special Operations component of the United States Air Force and the US Air Force component command to the United States Special Operations Command , a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida...

. Then in April 2006, the AFRCC was realigned back to Air Combat Command. On 1 March 2007 the AFRCC was moved from Langley to Tyndall Air Force Base under 1st Air Force (AFNORTH) commander. Since the center opened in May 1974, missions have resulted in more than 13,900 lives saved.

Patch History

The emblem of the AFRCC was developed in late 1992 by its members at Scott AFB, Illinois shortly after word was received that Air Rescue Service
Air Rescue Service
The Air Rescue Service is a disestablished organization in the United States Air Force. Previously a subcommand of the Military Air Transport Service , a USAF major command , ARS was redesignated as the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service on 1 Jan 1966 when MATS was redesignated as the Military...

 (ARS) was to be stood down. The newly formed Air Combat Command (ACC) assumed responsibility for United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

Rescue assets in 1993 as a result of a service-wide reorganization and the AFRCC moved to Langley AFB, Virginia. In 2003 under another Air Force wide reorganization the AFRCC was realigned under the Director of Operations, HQ Air Force Special Operations Command while its location remained at Langley AFB. In April 2006 the AFRCC was re-aligned under 1 AF and subsequently re-located to Tyndall AFB March 2007.

The emblem depicts the broad mission of search and rescue in the United States. The green and blue represent the Inland Region, both land and air with the resources used the most often for search and rescue. Fixed and rotary wing aircraft and the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System are highlighted with red lightning bolts representing a rapid response. The yellow and black represent peacetime and combat SAR and the eagle is the AFRCC, continuously fostering a cooperative search and rescue network. Over the years, the emblem has become not only a symbol of the AFRCC, but of all those who support and participate in its national level mission. It embodies the cooperative unity that makes our search and rescue system work towards the common goal of saving lives.

External links