Pigeons were used for search and rescue work by the Nevada wing, very effectively in the early days, when no radio equipment was available, or the search area was too remote, or to supplement the radio in the transmission of messages. They were used to transport maps, films, overlays, and photographs from working ground teams.
CAP pilots and observers were taught to release pigeons out of the windows out of the small CAP planes, the observer holding the bird high up under the wing and tossing it gently toward the wing tip. Air currents seem to carry the bird out under the wing to the tip where it fell off in the air burble at the tip, circled a few times and took off for home, no worse for the wear, often beating the plan home, particularly against head winds.
Special baskets or containers were made by Nevada CAP units to carry the birds on horseback or on a ski pack. All communications specialists were required to know how to handle the birds and take care of them in the field.
The system in using the birds was exactly as in pigeon racing. The birds race for the hot lofts, ringing a bell when they enter the loft. The owner or family immediately would rush out, remove the message and then dash to the communication section at the CAP mission base.