Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol ready to respond to emergencies during world’s largest fly-in

Photo by Captain Jeri Gonwa – Captain Terese Barta, Stevens Point Composite Squadron commander, and 2nd Lieutenant Patricia Miara, Eau Claire Composite Squadron public affairs officer, use an L-Per to locate an ELT (emergency locator transmitter) being emitted from a plane in the field.

Oshkosh:  With the EAA Search and Rescue (SAR) mission in full swing as EAA AirVenture began yesterday, Civil Air Patrol members are ready for any emergency.

This year’s weather has been a scorcher and this week is no different with the high temperature in Oshkosh reaching 100 degrees on opening day.  In spite of the heat and humidity, the faithful volunteers endure the heat and perform their duties.

Faithfully logging planes, closing flight plans for pilots and searching for an overdue plane are all in a day’s duties.  Over 140 members are needed on a daily basis in the Wisconsin Wing Air Force assigned mission, which not only covers the EAA AirVenture grounds and Wittman Regional Airport, but encompasses a 35 mile radius around the world’s largest fly-in.

With the help of National Blue Beret, a CAP national special cadet activity held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Wing members work at the remaining airports in the surrounding communities.

To date, the following statistics have been reported for 2012:

  • Air Sorties – 9
  • Ramp Checks – 13
  • Ramp finds – 9
  • ELT Finds – 1
  • Highest number of personnel – 140

Unlike most missions, there is no present known emergency, but Lieutenant Colonel Dean Klassy, project officer for the mission, hopes it stays that way.

By patrolling the skies with four of the thirteen Wisconsin Wing CAP planes, it is the goal of the mission to locate emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) that are sending out a beacon signal before they are reported to have gone off by other sources.   Being able to hear, find and disable a signal before other non-CAP pilots creates less of a panic than if a plane is reported missing or an ELT is heard by another source.

“Last year there was a great example that the air patrols work,” stated Klassy in a telephone interview.  “An active ELT was heard when a CAP aircraft was flying a precautionary search.”

Because the ELT was heard more than a 35 mile radius from Oshkosh, the approval of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) was needed to go outside the area to locate the source of the signal.

“The aircrew was able to locate the ELT approximately 50 miles from Oshkosh near a grass strip runway,” Klassy continued.  “Within 15 minutes of a CAP plane flying a few low-speed approaches confirming the signal was located at the airstrip, the signal ceased.”

“That signal for all we know may have been a plane that crashed.  But because we heard it before someone else did and it was disabled quickly, a full blown search for a missing plane was averted,” he concluded.

A ground team was poised and ready to deploy from the Fond du Lac base to help search for the source of the signal, but was not needed due to the efficiency of the aircrew.

Tomorrow will bring more planes as the 2012 EAA AirVenture continues to draw air plane pilots and enthusiasts from over 60 countries.  Rest assured, Wisconsin Wing Civil Air Patrol will be patrolling the skies and keeping track of the many planes flying in and out of the area.

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