Civil Air Patrol (CAP) NC Wing Group 1 in Asheville hosted a search and rescue exercise earlier in September that incorporated the use of drones, airplanes and ground teams.
A press release from the non-profit corporation says this was CAP’s first use of drones in Western North Carolina. They say the small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) was integrated with a Cessna 172 manned aircraft and a Ground Team to simulate the search for a lost hiker on Sept. 4.
"We're real excited about furthering this capability in CAP," Lt Col Carlisle Lincoln, the incident commander, said in a press release. "It is a great mission multiplier that brings enhanced situational awareness to any search and ultimately will expand and improve our service to our communities."
CAP says the search started off with the Cessna 172 helping identify the general area of the hiker's Personal Locator Beacon, then the sUAS Team and Ground Team were deployed to the area identified by the aircrew. The sUAS Team searched an open field and along a gravel road. The Ground Team then located the lost hiker and lifted him out of the area on a litter.
“sUAS are a great tool going forward with the potential for saving lives,” said 1st Lt Norm Coleson in CAP's news release. “The system gave us more confidence that the subject was not in certain areas, and gave us new areas for the focus of our search.”
CAP personnel from Gastonia, Asheville, Greenville, and Winston-Salem supported the exercise. The first sUAS Team for Group 1 was comprised of Maj Clint Parker, Lt Norm Coleson, and Maj David Hartman.
"Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force," CAP's release details. "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 more than 80 lives annually."
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