The Marco Island Composite Squadron’s communications officer, 1st Lt. Fred Edwards, speaks with CAP aircrew members during the training exercise.
Capt. Steve Smith, Marco Island deputy commander, looks over mission files.
Mission staff brief a CAP pilot before a training flight.
The Southeast Region's Gippsland GA8 sits ready for takeoff from Marco Island Airport.
Capt. Larry Harris
Assistant Public Affairs Officer
Marco Island Composite Squadron
FLORIDA – Three dozen members from the Marco Island and Naples senior squadrons combined forces recently to prepare for the upcoming storm season with a one-day search and rescue exercise conducted from Marco Island Airport.
Having pilots and administrative staff from both units flying and working together helped the members hone their skills in searching for downed aircraft and lost boaters and spotting anything unusual in the areas between Marco Island and much of the Big Cypress preserve.
Working from maps, aerial photos and last known position reports, aircrews were dispatched to the four corners of an area stretching from Marco Island to Everglades National Park.
Naples pilots flew their unit’s Cessna 182 into Marco Airport shortly after 7 a.m. to join the Southeast Region’s Gippsland GA8 Airvan and the Marco Island squadron’s Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182, already positioned on the ramp. Flight crews then attended a safety briefing conducted by Capt. Steve Smith, Marco Island deputy commander, followed by flight assignments to a specific area of the Big Cypress.
The aircraft were dispatched to their search areas in half-hour intervals beginning at 8:30 a.m., then recovered an hour later in the same sequence.
The planes were then refueled, and new crews were assigned new objectives for 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. takeoffs.
As they were replaced in the aircraft, the original crews’ members were debriefed by the operations staff to evaluate their effectiveness during their flight.
Flight operations were completed by 4 p.m., and the aircraft returned to their home base to end the day.
Operating up to three aircraft in the same general vicinity required the coordination of planning staff, communications operators and aircrews to maintain a safe but effective training exercise.
Lt. Col. Ray Rosenberg, Florida Wing Group 5 commander, was on hand to review the exercise, which was planned and executed by Lt. Col. Lee Henderson, Marco Island commander, incident commander for the day.