Following the destruction of our airplane hangar by Hurricane Irma, Justin Lobb, the airport manager, graciously authorized the use of several rooms at the airport terminal, making the exercise possible. We operated our Radio Mission Base, mandatory for all CAP missions, out of the temporary station at the south end of the airport terminal building. With these added support facilities, the SAR/EX was a complete success.
Two aircraft, one from Marco and one from Naples, have flown on eight air missions over a period of two days. A ground sortie was performed with advance aircraft reconnaissance. Five CAP cadets, of the Naples Cadet squadron, participated under the guidance and supervision of Ground Team Leader Captain Eric Havens; the aircrew and then the cadet ground team, found the exact location of the emergency signal simulating a crashed aircraft.SAR real missions and training are some of the essential activities performed by CAP. They often include Search Pattern practice – looking for simulated downed aircraft; boating vessels in distress; Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal searches – both from the air and on the ground; downed and lost helicopter simulation; and other targets of interest. During the sorties, many highresolution, geotagged reconnaissance photos were taken by the CAP Airborne Photographers using the Nikon handheld and Garmin VIRB-Elite under-thewing cameras.
The Marco Island squadron commander, Major Robert Corriveau, commented after the conclusion of the exercise, “This was a very timely exercise especially with the arrival of our snowbirds. It allowed us to update our procedures and refresh our skills.”
With the establishment of a temporary radio station and hangar for our aircraft, the Marco Squadron is able to continue to provide services to Marco Island and Collier County and to host SAR/EX missions in Southwest Florida. We are mission-ready and continue to perform our weekly Wilderness Coastal Patrols as well as assisting with training missions in support of Homeland Security.
While Irma destroyed our hangar, we are moving forward. Our hangar debris has been cut away and removed from the building and surrounding area – the site has been cleaned up and is ready for reconstruction. Next step is rebuilding the hangar.