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Hyperspectral remote sensing provides information related to surface material characteristics that can be exploited to perform automated detection of targets of interest and has been applied to a variety of remote sensing applications. This paper explores the application to civilian search and rescue, using the airborne real-time cueing hyperspectral enhanced reconnaissance (ARCHER) system developed for the civil air patrol as a key example of how evolving hyperspectral technology can be employed to support these operations. ARCHER combines a visible/near-infrared hyperspectral imaging system, a high-resolution visible panchromatic imaging sensor, and an integrated geopositioning and inertial navigation unit with onboard real-time processing for data acquisition and correction, precision image georegistration, and target detection and cueing. Processing for detecting downed aircraft wreckage and other related objects employs real-time adaptive anomaly detection and matched filtering algorithms, and a non-real-time change detection mode to provide further false alarm reduction in some instances. This paper describes the system technology, with an emphasis on the current and evolving automated target detection methods, and summarizes the operational experience in the airborne employment against civilian search and rescue missions.