Critical Search and Rescue Exercise by the Charlotte County Composite Squadron
Saturday, March 9, 2019

By 2nd Lt Donna Jablonski, Charlotte County Composite Sq., Florida Wing

Punta Gorda, Fla -

The Charlotte County Composite Squadron conducted a SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercise) on February 23rd.  The practice exercise is a critical component of one of the Civil Air Patrolís missions Ė Search and Rescue.  Most aircraft in this country are equipped with emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) that are activated by the impact of a crash. The signal is picked up by airliners or other aircraft, and the US Air Force (95% of the time) notifies the nearest Civil Air Patrol unit.

In total during the February exercise, seven air sorties and two ground crews were deployed, involving senior members and cadets.  Both missions were designed to practice communications and skills in searching for aircraft locator beacons. The mission scenarios were based on fictitious downed aircraft in wooded areas around Punta Gorda Airport.  The different scenarios allowed teams to hone their skills in search and rescue emergency situations.

Training missions are essential activities performed by CAP for maintaining mission readiness. They include visual search pattern practice looking for simulated downed aircraft and boating vessels in distress; electronic searches for emergency locator transmitter signals both from the air and on the ground; and ensuring our aerial photographers geo-tag the locations.

All missions were successful in locating the downed aircraft. 

One of the additional benefits in participating in these exercises is the training and/or qualification and re-qualification of various specialties.  These include Mission Pilots, Mission Observers, Mission Radio Operators, Aerial Photographers, and UDF (Urban Direction Finding) teams.

Charlotte County Composite Squadron Emergency Services Officer, Dave Curtis, coordinated the extremely complex event which begins with briefings of the search area, maintaining situational awareness to avoid other aircraft, birds, towers and the airspace around Punta Gorda Airport, and communication procedures.

Mission briefing photo : Emergency Services Officer Dave Curtis, Air Operations Branch Director Robert Filler, and Squadron Commander Major Gerald Lewis.

On the right: George Noren Aerial Photographer, Major Richard Morrell Mission Pilot and 2nd Lt Beverly Mautner.                             

Thanks to all the volunteer Charlotte County Composite Squadron participants who made the exercise possible.

Mission briefing photo : Emergency Services Officer Dave Curtis, Air Operations Branch Director Robert Filler, and Squadron Commander Major Gerald Lewis.
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Photo Caption:  Mission briefing photo : Emergency Services Officer Dave Curtis, Air Operations Branch Director Robert Filler, and Squadron Commander Major Gerald Lewis.
Article Information
Reviewed by: 2nd Lt. Donna Jablonski
Syndicated to: Florida Wing, Group 5
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Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Forceís Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAPís 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAPís Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.
Visit the Southeast Region Civil Air Patrol at https://sercap.us and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sercap

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