Super Bowl Sunday? While millions of fans gathered together to watch the football game, Civil Air Patrol pilots and aircrews, dedicated to saving lives, were flying practice search and rescue (SAR) missions in order to sharpen their SAR skills. They are very well aware that flying skills and abilities deteriorate rapidly if not practiced diligently.
Mission pilots, air crews and CAP cadets awoke Sunday to breezy, nearly freezing, foggy and slightly snowing weather conditions. The SAR pilots and aircrews busied themselves with the task of pre-flight paperwork, planning mission tactics and routines of flights. At the same time, the CAP cadets were receiving briefings from their squad leaders. They checked their personal gear for hiking, gathered equipment for their mission and checked the emergency locator transmitters (ELT) scanners.
As daylight dawned, the temperature warmed and lifted the fog. By mid-morning improved weather conditions gave a thumbs-up for the mission. The pilots, along with their air crews, leaped into their planes, their objectives sharply focused, and flew off in their respective directions, while the CAP cadets commenced on their mission. They were sent to a simulated area to locate an ELT on a downed aircraft. The cadets found a mannequin with an ELT planted inside. They gently placed the mannequin into a stretcher basket and delivered it to the CAP hanger. The cadets endured nearly freezing temperatures while on the ground and mountain search mission.
As the day progressed, all objectives were met and targets successfully located just before dark ... just in time for all involved to go skidding in the home door to watch the finish of the Super Bowl.
Jean Sztuk is a public affairs officer for the Civil Air Patrol.