May 20, 2008

CAP Has Big Showing at Andrews Air Show

Civil Air Patrol members from the Maryland and National Capital Wings joined together with the Congressional Squadron to promote CAP at the annual Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland this past weekend.

This year, CAP had a very good showing with a number of CAP planes on the tarmac along with the CAP National HQ recruiting trailer.
Cadets and senior members provided information and answered questions for inquiring visitors as they viewed the CAP planes on display.

And, once again this year, cadets provided support in the distinguished visitors area by stopping people from entering if they did not have the right level of access.

May 15, 2008

Training to Respond to a Hurricane

With hurricane season just weeks away, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members from across Maryland spent this past weekend practicing their ability to respond to a potential hurricane along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

During the scenario held at St. Mary's Airport in California, Md., the teams responded to simulated flooding and property damage due to the simulated landfall of a hurricane on the eastern seaboard.

The experience allowed them to practice search and rescue training and disaster relief. Crews in CAP aircraft practiced locating Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs). These devices, present in aircraft and some boats, emit a signal when jolted or turned upside down – indicating some type of accident.
Following a real hurricane, planes and boats across the region would be tipped over and damaged meaning many emergency beacons would be activated.

During the training mission, air crews used equipment on board the aircraft to locate the signals and relay that information to search rescue teams on the ground. The crews in the air also practiced their ability to communicate in various locations across the region in order to document places where radio communication is not possible.

CAP ground search and rescue teams practiced coordinating with the air crews and using equipment on the ground to triangulate the position of the ELTs. They also conducted simulated disaster assessment in low lying areas.

The event also provided an opportunity for Flight Line Marshaller training. Several cadets and senior members participated in the course conducted by Maryland Group III Commander, Lt. Col. Wes LaPre with help from Maj. Egon Frech.

In addition, CAP used the training mission to conduct pre-disaster surveys of flood vulnerable areas in the Chesapeake Bay region. That information will be shared with local and state Emergency Operations Centers and the Red Cross so they too can prepare for a real disaster.

May 13, 2008

Maryland Wing trains in the mountains of West Virginia

Coordinating with aircraft from the ground during a search and rescue operation can be difficult but highly effective. That is what a ground team learned during the recent joint Maryland/West Virginia Wing Search and Rescue Exercice (SAREX) in Petersburg, WVa.

Three senior members and eight cadets from the Arundel, Annapolis, Bowie and College Park squadrons made up the team, dubbed "Terp Six" by the West Virginia Wing. The team was tasked to find a missing aircraft atop a mountain in the Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest.

Unable to contact the aircrew directly, the team relied on the Incident Command Post (ICP) to relay messages about the whereabouts of the aircraft and to coordinate a meeting location. The ICP instructed the team to travel up the mountain in an effort to rendezvous with a Maryland National Guard helicopter. The first trip up the mountain did not prove successful. Neither the aircrew nor the team in the van could see each other. The team was then instructed to head up the other side of the mountain. After a long and bumpy ride, Terp Six arrived.

As they waited for the chopper, they gazed at a beautiful skyline separating the cloudy sky from a nearly flat landscape full of gray boulders, grass and bushes. But not everything was going as planned. A storm was moving in and the helicopter was running low on fuel after trying to meet up with the team. The chopper was forced to return to base to refuel before returning to the meeting location.

Just as the ground team was becoming restless, a UH-58 Army National Guard helicopter appeared over the horizon. Army National Guard pilot, 1st Lt. Nick Kiaunis, and observer, Col. Rod Moore, the West Virginia Wing Commander, advised the team below that the chopper would begin circling the simulated crash scene.

The eager ground team members, lead by 1st Lt. Willy Santos, jumped into action, quickly grabbing their gear and setting off into the tough terrain to find the wreckage. The foliage was waist high in some spots forcing the team to alternate between looking to the sky and glancing at the ground to avoid falling over rocks and small trees.

"The helicopter was in the air; it circled the target a few times to let us know where it was at. Once we had it in sight, we let the Guard helicopter know," said C/Capt. Mark Cole, a Ground Team Leader Trainee for the event. By following the helicopters movements, the team spotted the simulated wreckage in about 10 minutes. The ground team evaluated the scene. C/Capt. Cole called the findings into ICP. He explained that Terp Six had located a red and white simulated aircraft and that the plane's passengers were not present at the scene.

The team was instructed to collect the pieces of the simulated wreckage and return to base. The training mission was a success according to Capt. Cole. "Once we actually got rolling, things went very smoothly…communication-wise, working with the National Guard helicopter, with mission base. It all worked out fine," he said.