The Marco Island Senior Squadron, FL-376, Civil Air Patrol (MICAP) recently hosted a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAR/EX). This mission was a joint venture including members from the Naples Senior Squadron and the Charlotte County and Sarasota Composite Squadrons, and members of Group 5. In total 23 members actively participated in the many sorties over the Everglades, Port of the Isles, the Ten Thousand Island and the Marco Island area.
The missions were based on the following assumption: “A CAT 5 hurricane has just passed through SW Florida causing severe damage from Everglade City along the coastline including Naples, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Sarasota and the surrounding areas.” Eight different scenarios allowed the teams to hone their skills in disaster assessment (with aerial photography) and grid pattern searching.
We operated our Mission Base and our radio station out of the remaining portion of our CAP building at the Marco Island Executive Airport. IRMA destroyed the hangar section of the building. The SAR/EX was a complete success. Two aircraft, one from Marco and one from Sarasota, flew thirteen air missions over a period of two days. The Marco Island Senior Squadron commander, Major Robert Corriveau summarized the event, “Let me say that we had a great SAR/EX even though we had to cut it short due to weather. We did however manage to accomplish seven sorties on the first day and six on the second day. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie, teaching and learning. Much was accomplished in a short period of time. Thanks to all who participated and who made this all possible.”
SAR/EX 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 high-resolution, geotagged reconnaissance photos were taken by the CAP Airborne Photographers using the Nikon handheld and Garmin VIRB-Elite under-the-wing cameras.
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, in spite of a destroyed hangar. We are mission-ready and continue to perform our weekly training and preparedness missions, 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 to rebuild!