The UK Civil Air Patrol (CAP), also popularly known as Sky Watch, was formed in Yorkshire in 2000. It is now one of the largest charitable air observation organisations in Europe with between 150 and 200 members, together with a fleet of aircraft that includes light aeroplanes, light helicopters, autogyros and small unmanned aerial vehicles. Across the UK, Sky Watch is divided into 3 Principal Regions split along the geographical national boundaries of UK countries: England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Regions account for minor differences in devolved government procedures and country-specific agencies, allowing each CAP Region to integrate more easily. England & Wales Region is further divided into 5 Areas covering the North, East, West, South West and South East.
The primary mission of the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol may be summed up as providing aerial support and capability to organisations and communities that may not have easy access to these services to protect life and the environment.
All Sky Watch activity is strictly humanitarian. Assistance sorties or ground support are intended purely to provide benefit to the community including the preservation of the environment. Any direct advantage gained by a particular agency from a Sky Watch mission is incidental; the principal motivation of the Civil Air Patrol in the UK is to provide community relief through occasional complementary air support for those who would otherwise have no access to it. Sky Watch will not compete with established air resources and will operate only when the only alternative to Sky Watch air support is no air support at all. CAP assistance sorties including aerial photography are provided free to users. As a registered charity, Sky Watch may accept donations after the event but terms cannot be arranged beforehand.