Clearwater, FL -
Recently, the U.S. Air Force conducted its bi-annual Operations Qualification exercise to determine the operational preparedness of Civil Air Patrol’s Florida Wing. The operation included the participation of 63 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) volunteers across the state serving over 335 total volunteer hours. The wing received a satisfactory and fully mission capable rating as the result of the weekend exercise.
Florida Wing volunteers navigated through several hypothetical scenarios with a Category 4 hurricane as the primary base situation. The simulated missions sorties included: a relief mission where CAP had to transport necessary medical supplies from Clearwater to two other locations in the state; searched for two aircraft reported missing just after the storm; and provide aerial photos of the storm damaged areas as requested by various local, state, and federal agencies.
Cessna 172s were launched as part of this operation to support ground teams using Urban Direction Finder (UDF) equipment. The exercise for the ground teams was to locate the simulated crash site via an Emergency Location Transmitter (ELT). The ELT is installed on all civilian aircraft and designed to begin broadcasting a distress signal in the event of a plane crash. These signals allow first responders to rapidly locate downed aircraft and provide critical assistance.
The command post for this exercise operated out of the Clearwater Air Park, home to the Clearwater Composite Squadron. Lt. Colonel Francisco San Pedro, commanding officer of the Clearwater Composite Squadron, said, “The result to the overall exercise was a resounding success. However, we must remember, that we respond to disaster and emergency situations like we train.” Leading the operation as Incident Commander for Civil Air Patrol, was Major Samuel Chiodo. “The exercise this weekend proved that CAP is mission ready and capable to handle the missions as required. The success of this exercise indicates the training, perseverance, commitment, volunteerism, and teamwork that CAP members possess. This was a total team effort that could not have been successful without the efforts of all of the members who participated”.