April 26, 2009

Preperation for Air Force Evaluated SAREX

Members of the Maryland Civil Air Patrol (CAP) spent last weekend preparing for next month’s U.S. Air Force evaluated Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX).

Groups III, II and members of wing staff participated at the event in Hollywood, Md. Air Crews gathered at St. Mary’s Airport, the mission base, to learn how to use CAP’s Satellite-transmitted Digital Imaging System (SDIS). Following classroom training, the crews put their skills to use in the air snapping pictures of various locations throughout the region including the Bay Bridge.

Shortly after SDIS training concluded, Maryland CAP Wing Commander, Col. Gerard W. Weiss, met with section chiefs and other staff to discuss plans for the SAREX in May. During the session, Air Force evaluator, Lt. Col. Stephen DePalo, offered members an overview of what they can expect to happen during evaluation.

Group III Commander, Lt. Col. Wes LaPre, called DePalo’s visit insightful. “He came and told us not scenario stuff but basically philosophy which is to take the task and do the task and not to try to do anything flamboyant with it, basically get it done because you know you are going to get some more tasks,” he said.

Out in the field, ground search and rescue teams from Annapolis and Arundel Squadrons practiced locating Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) at the Jug Bay Natural Area in Upper Marlboro, Md while a third team from St. Mary's practiced near mission base.

The teams also practiced coordinating with CAP aircraft to locate a target. Back at the airport, members of the Bowie, St. Mary’s and College Park squadrons participated in flight line marshaling training which involves directing the movement of aircraft once pilots land and are taxing around the airport.

CAP pilots were not the only aviators taking advantage of the facility and nice weather. It was an all around busy day at the airport and those with a view of the flight line were treated to a variety of specialty aircraft unrelated to the training event.

“We had helicopters, the only civilian on owned Harrier, sport planes, ultralights, gliders; we had the whole gamut of aviation here in addition to having a great SAREX," said former Md. Wing Commander and current St. Mary’s Squadron member, Col. Larry Trick.

Members of the St. Mary’s Composite Squadron are credited with arranging for CAP to use the facility, coordinating meals and cleanup following the event.

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April 1, 2009

Group III Participates in Wing Training

Civil Air Patrol members from across Maryland Wing, including members from Group 3, spent a recent weekend training and testing equipment in preparation for the U.S. Air Force evaluated Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) later this spring.

Pilots and aircrews practiced searching for Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) a simulated medical transport mission. On the ground, members tested wing communications equipment. The team successfully conducted long-haul VHF communications using a directional antenna to transmit from St. Mary’s to the Patapsco repeater. This allowed the signal to be carried across the state to the Hagerstown staging area allowing for situational awareness of aircraft across the wing.

In addition, the mission base communications team at St. Mary’s practiced responding to a power outage. To simulate this, the team substituted a van powered radio to communicate with Group III aircraft and to a staging area on the Eastern Shore.

Out in the field, ground teams spent the day practicing their skills, including tracking down ELTs, at various locations across the state. Ten members also participated in flight line training including eight flight line trainees and two flight line supervisor trainees at St. Mary’s Airport.

While training operations were under way, staff members met to a conduct a table-top exercise for future SAREXs at the St. Mary's Airport, including an event planned for April 18th and the Air Force evaluated SAREX scheduled for May 30th. The team outlined several major objectives for the next event while also refining the responsibilities of the planning section, air operations branch and other positions within the Incident Command System.