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Mon, May 31, 2010

CAP Volunteers Fly Critical Missions In Support Of Oil Spill Response

Aircrews Have Flown 73 Missions Totaling 197 Hours

Civil Air Patrol members from Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are launching daily aerial damage assessment flights from their station in the Mobile Convention Center, one of several incident command posts set up for the Gulf Coast oil spill response.


(L-R) Capt. Glenn Wilson, Maj. John Neil Examine A Coastal Map

Responding in its role as the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol is flying critical missions in support of Deepwater Horizon Response. Those missions have included flying VIPs over coastal waters to get a look at the integrity of oil containment barriers, transporting vital mission equipment, collecting data and flying coastline photo reconnaissance missions.
 
The most important task the CAP aircrews perform is making daily flights over 700 miles of coastline from Louisiana to Florida and taking digital images of the oil containment barriers and adjacent land area near the shoreline. In 13 days of flying missions, 26 volunteers have expended 2,128 man-hours making 73 flights in 12 CAP aircraft, for a total of 197 hours in the air over the waters along the Gulf Coast.


(L-R) Capt. Wilson, Eric Brockwell

On an average day, CAP aircrews take from 2,400 to 3,600 digital images. The images represent critical information disaster planners are using to help determine their response to the spill, which began April 20 following an explosion at the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig. "Whether it is performing duties as an aircrew member, mission base or support staff, the opportunity to serve with Civil Air Patrol in response to this incident is an honor," said Maj. Keith Riddle of CAP's Mississippi Wing.
 
Maj. John Neil, the initial CAP incident commander at the Mobile command post, spent nine days away from his civilian job to serve. "If I did not have to make a living, I would continue to serve as the IC until the mission is completed," he said. Neil, the Alabama Wing director of operations, will probably get an opportunity to return, as CAP's missions are expected to continue into the month of June.


(L-R) Maj. Keith Riddle, 1st Lt. Randy Broussard, Plan 73rd Mission

In addition to CAP's citizen volunteers, hundreds of other disaster assistance personnel are participating in Deepwater Horizon Response, an operation coordinated by the unified command made up of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, BP, the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, EPA, and Department of the Interior. The unified command is working with agencies such as NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CAP to provide data to the different groups working to clean up the spill.

FMI: www.gocivilairpatrol.com

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