Here you will find updates, news, and interesting items from our Squadron Operations Officer.

High Tech

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Lt. Col. David A. Miller
Public Affairs Officer
Missouri Wing

MISSOURI -- Innovative technology is allowing the Missouri Wing  to provide real-time full-motion video reconnaissance capability in the ongoing fight against the flooding Missouri River.
 
As part of a joint $2.5 million program with the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command, a modified Cessna 182 singe-engine aircraft using an unmanned aerial vehicle's sensor ball mounted under its left wing provides high-resolution imagery and the ability to lock on and track targets. Initially envisioned to help train soldiers and airmen for combat operations overseas, these full-motion video equipped aircraft have proven effective in other missions such as search and rescue and disaster relief.
 
The aircraft is flying in support of continued operations by the Missouri Wing to provide daily aerial photo reconnaissance of levees and critical infrastructure along the flooded Missouri River, from the Iowa border to Kansas City and on toward Booneville, Mo., as tasked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Emergency Management Agency.
 
Analysis of the real-time video, as well as other digital photographs, has allowed these agencies to respond immediately to newly discovered levee sand boils, scourings, overtoppings and breaches -- often retasking aircraft while still in flight.
 
And that's exactly what happened recently when a full-motion video aircrew spotted a boat in trouble on the Missouri River.
 
While flying over a vast flooded area of the river, the aircrew noted a fast moving airboat slow, then stop, with smoke coming from its engine. Those on board were donning life preservers, and the aircrew concluded that the boat and crew were in distress since they seemedable to restart their engine and were drifting downstream. The position and time were immediately relayed to the mission base at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City.
 
While local authorities were being contacted, the aircrew remained overhead monitoring the situation until low fuel forced them to return to base. With help from the local sheriff's department, the Missouri Water Patrol quickly brought the stricken boat safely to the bank and rescued all on board.
 
"This is an outstanding example of how joint operations between several different agencies cooperatively can get the mission accomplished," said Lt. Col. Dennis Pearson, Missouri Wing incident commander. "Only through such cooperation will we continue the effective fight against the ongoing extensive flooding."
 
Weather permitting, aircrews from the Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska wings are providing daily aerial photo reconnaissance of the extensive flooding of the Missouri River from the Iowa border to near Jefferson City in the center of the state, including continued close attention to the rising floodwaters around Rosecrans Air National Guard Base near St. Joseph.
 
To date aircrews have made 67 flights totaling almost 120 flight-hours and have taken more than 2,400 digital photographs.
 
Specific taskings include aerial reconnaissance of:
  • The flood progression of the Missouri River and its tributaries.

  • Condition of levees including overtoppings, breaches, seepage and sand boils.

  • Accessibility of roads and bridges.

  • Community impact assessment.

  • Status of specific dams, power plants, water treatment facilities and other critical infrastructure.

  • Status of Rosecrans Air National Guard Base.

  • Reporting of other anomalies or visible seen on the water.
"During this unprecedented season of natural disasters, our members continue to overcome all challenges to get the mission accomplished," said Col. Erica Williams, Missouri Wing commander. "We are especially indebted to those members of CAP's Kansas and Nebraska wings who continue to assist with our flood flights along the Missouri River."

Sandy

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CONCORD, N.H. – Civil Air Patrol is launching 23 aircraft from every wing along the Northeast seaboard, as well as   Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, to photograph hurricane damage in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and to conduct low-level missions over waterways around New York and New Jersey to pinpoint oil spills and navigation hazards for the U.S. Coast Guard.

"We have a tremendous amount of taskings to complete in the next two days," said Lt. Col. Rick Crepas, operations section chief at the Northeast Region's command post in Concord, N.H. "The logistics for getting all this to happen is tremendous. Coordination with air traffic control centers, the FAA, the New York City Police Department and other agencies all must be done for a successful operation."

One of the priorities is to complete a photo mosaic of the storm-struck Northeast for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We have thousands of images to go," said Crepas, director of emergency services for CAP's Great Lakes Region. "Those tasked with photo missions will be taking photos every five seconds."

Another priority is to help the Coast Guard locate oil spills, including sources of spills, as well as debris in the waterways that poses navigation hazards and/or public health risks. The Coast Guard, Crepas said, also wants CAP aircrews to photograph the waterways around New York and New Jersey at different times that would correspond to varying tidal conditions.

He said a third high priority is to give personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a first-hand view of ravaged areas so they can better assess where to deploy recovery crews for optimal impact.

Each of the planes – all technologically advanced CAP G1000 Cessna 182s – will have a three-member crew that flies two sorties during the day. Some of the aircrews will travel more than hours to get to their target areas, Crepas said.

"We're fighting weather, shorter daylight hours and some very high air traffic areas," he said.

Crepas said 700 to 750 CAP members are supporting the post-hurricane missions daily throughout the organization's Northeast and Mideast regions, putting in up to 7,000 man-hours a day.

"We're bringing in talent and personnel to handle this" from as far away as Michigan, Illinois and Indiana," he said. "They're dedicated volunteers, most of whom have put their personal lives on hold to serve the American public."

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