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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