Wings' Plans Take Shape as Irma Approaches Fla.
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing on Saturday, September 9, 2017 by Author: Lt Col Judy Steele.

As Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, Southeast Region commanders focused Friday on readiness for disaster relief response once the massive storm again makes landfall.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, slammed by Irma on Wednesday, six volunteers from mainland CAP units were deployed Friday to provide support for the wing's aerial assessments and photography missions for federal relief agencies.

Irma, now a Category 4 hurricane, is expected to reach Florida early Sunday, then travel north toward Georgia and on to Tennessee before losing strength. The storm is expected to cover all of Florida as it moves further inland.

“Our members are taking all necessary measures to protect their families and personal property, so they will be able to respond to the situation when called upon to do so,” said Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander.

The Florida Wing’s commander, Col. Luis Garcia, said Friday afternoon his units were at HURCON 3 status, which calls for CAP facilities and assets to be secured for the storm no less than 24 hours before landfall.

Garcia also directed a review of the wing’s mutual aid and support agreements and said pilots, other members and equipment should be identified and deployed for relief missions as soon as it’s safe.

“All of our aircraft has been evacuated to the Florida Panhandle,” Garcia said. “All members are reporting they are prepared or are conducting final preparations.”
Irma packed a wallop to infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as it traveled through the Caribbean.

Melton said CAP has restored communications with its Caribbean units but is limited by the availability of electricity.

On Friday, the Georgia Wing was getting ready for Irma after it passes out of the Florida Peninsula. If projections hold, the storm will take a path through the middle of Georgia toward Atlanta.

Col. Andrea Van Buren, Georgia Wing commander, said her Irma team has developed three plans for relief deployment, with possible mission base locations selected for CAP planes depending on landfall scenarios.

“Depending upon projections, one of those game plans will be executed and assets staged,” Van Buren said.

“Then, we batten the hatches until it’s safe and we are called to serve.”

Stay Safe, Stand Ready, Smith Tells Fla. Members as Hurricane Irma Looms
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing on Saturday, September 9, 2017 by Author: Lt Col Judy Steele.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, National Commander, Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol's new national commander today asked his volunteer members in Florida to stay safe and stand ready to respond after Hurricane Irma makes landfall on the peninsula, predicted early Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, who assumed command of the 58,000-member volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 2, said he is proud of how his organization was handling the challenges of providing disaster relief not only for Irma, but also Hurricane Harvey's aftermath.

"Back-to-back natural disasters, first Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, test all of us," Smith said. "But they also provide opportunities for CAP members to show their mettle."

As of Friday, CAP had delivered more than 300,000 aerial images over Texas and Louisiana in Harvey’s wake, with more than 30 CAP planes in service and the support of members from 34 wings, Smith said.

Today, Puerto Rico Wing aircrews were in the air for a second day to support relief efforts in the Caribbean after Irma’s passage.

In Puerto Rico, hit by Irma on Wednesday, members spent today taking aerial photos of water and wind damage, as well as transporting relief and recovery officials to the U.S. Virgin Islands, said Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander. The missions were tasked by the 1st Air Force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Smith expressed confidence that CAP members are poised to respond when requested on the mainland.

"We stand ready to serve our communities, states and nation," Smith said.
Melton echoed Smith, saying Florida Wing members – no strangers to hurricane response – are prepared.

"The wing has been systematically spooling up its response readiness for the last two weeks," he said.

That includes moving aircraft and crews from other units in the Southeast Region, Melton said. His command includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Col. Luis Garcia, Florida Wing commander, said his units are at top readiness, known as HURCON 1. He said the wing will likely set up initial incident command posts in Lakeland and Tallahassee once conditions improve.

Puerto Rico, U.S.Virgin Islands members prepare for Irma missions; Florida braces
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing on Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Author: Lt Col Judy Steele.

Civil Air Patrol members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands worked today to re-establish stable communications and plan aerial missions after Hurricane Irma barreled past the islands and headed for Florida.

Col. Barry Melton, Southeast Region commander, said Puerto Rico operations were relocated from San Juan to Aguadilla on the commonwealth’s northwestern tip, the most distant point from the storm’s impact, before Wednesday's landfall.

Melton noted, however, communications between the mainland and units in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remained a challenge Thursday night.

Melton said he anticipates the wing’s Cessna planes, secured at Muniz Air National Guard Base in San Juan, will be deployed for missions tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and 1st Air Force as soon as aircrews can be safety deployed.

"Southeast Region members are rolling up their sleeves to aid in the recovery efforts that will be needed for some time to come," said Melton, whose command includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

He said high-frequency radio contact has been restored with CAP units in the U.S. Virgin Islands. CAP’s squadron in St. Croix was working to erect a directional antenna to enhance communications with colleagues in Puerto Rico, Melton said.

The Florida Wing spent today in preparations for Irma’s anticipated arrival early Sunday on the state’s eastern side. Forecasters warn Irma could be worst hurricane to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Col. Luis Garcia, Florida Wing commander, said his wing was relocating planes and flight crews to the state’s Panhandle region for future deployment after the hurricane makes landfall. Garcia said he has received offers of support from CAP operations in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Illinois.

“We are meeting nightly with all stakeholders to synchronize efforts across the wing and ensure continuity with adjoining wings,” he said, urging his volunteers to stay “safe and vigilant.”

Southeast Region Prepares for Hurricane Irma
Filed under Region Hq, Alabama Wing, Florida Wing, Georgia Wing, Mississippi Wing, Tennessee Wing, Puerto Rico Wing, Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 by Author: Lt Col Judy Steele.

Civil Air Patrol Southeast Region commanders, operations directors and U.S. Air Force personnel met Tuesday night to discuss Hurricane Irma preparedness plans as the Category 5 storm bore down on the Caribbean.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Irma could cause catastrophic damage as it passes the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and potentially heads toward southern Florida.

A state of emergency has been declared by President Donald Trump in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Florida. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were under a hurricane warning Tuesday night, with a potential landfall taking place on Wednesday.

Puerto Rico Wing has taken steps to secure CAP aircraft at Muniz Air National Guard Base located near the city of San Juan on the northeast side of the island.  The wing commander, Col. Carlos Fernandez, instructed all personnel to await further instructions from himself or the incident commander, Lt. Col. Marie Rivera, which is expected to come following improved weather conditions.

The governors of Florida, the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico declared states of emergency before President Trump's declaration.  In Florida, areas from the southern tip to the panhandle were seeing increasing lines at gas stations, grocery stores and home centers as citizens stock up on supplies.

Hurricane Irma was moving west at 14 miles per hour with a wind speed of 185 miles per hour. The storm was expected to arrive in the general area of the Florida Straits late Saturday.

Hurricane Irma Preparations
Photo: Civil Air Patrol personnel move aircraft into hangar alongside an Air National Guard's C-130.

Hurricane Irma Preparations
Photo: Civil Air Patrol Aircraft parked in hangar as personnel prepare for Hurricane Irma

Photos courtesy of Puerto Rico Wing, Civil Air Patrol. For more images, go to

Members Complete Over Water Survival Course at U.S. Coast Guard Station Clearwater
Filed under Florida Wing, Cadet Programs, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7, Florida Feature on Thursday, August 31, 2017 by Author: Florida Wing Public Affairs.

On Saturday, August 19, Group 3 held an Extended Over Water Survival (WS) pool session. Eight participants completed the requirements to earn this certification, which include classroom training, an aircraft egress exercise, on online test, and a practical exercise in a pool. U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater provided the pool and a rescue swimmer, also known as an Aviation Safety Technician (AST).

All aircrew personnel (mission pilots, observers, and scanners) who will be operating outside of gliding distance from shore are required to complete this training every three years. This is particularly useful in the Tampa area as crossing Tampa Bay while staying below Tampa International’s Class B airspace means you are outside of gliding distance to land much of the trip.

Safety is one of CAP’s top priorities, so this training is critical because using the techniques included in this training offers an expected 88% survival rate in the event of a ditching (water landing). Practicing the skills in a pool, wearing a flight suit, boots, and a personal flotation device (PFD) helps reinforce esprit de corps as aircrews work together to demonstrate treading water, swimming (together) 50+ feet, and climbing into a raft, which is harder than it looks. Most importantly, participants are able to experience the power of a PFD, particularly when their boots fill with water and feel more like lead than leather.

Group 3 hosted participants from the Legislative Squadron and Group 5 in addition to our local, Group 3, members. All participants completed the program successfully and demonstrated that we are proficient and ready for over water missions. This is just one of the many training programs Civil Air Patrol uses to stay proficient and to mitigate the risks inherent in flying our missions for America.

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