[Wing HQ, Rapid City, SD] – Early in the afternoon of 22 September, a South Dakota Wing mission pilot was flying a South Dakota Wing (SDWG) aircraft on a maintenance mission across the state from Sioux Falls to Rapid City. Near Pierre he was alerted by the Minneapolis Air Traffic Control Center that an emergency locator beacon (ELT) had been reported active in the vicinity of Pierre. Upon checking using both the radio and the aircraft’s radio-direction-finding gear he confirmed that an ELT was indeed active. Since he was on a maintenance flight and there was no report of a missing aircraft or other indications that this was an urgent situation he continued on to Rapid City. The Wing staff contacted the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Tyndall AFB, Florida, and described the situation. Though the AFRCC typically doesn’t authorize an ELT search unless three unrelated reports have been filed they went ahead and gave SDWG a mission on the strength of his report. The nearest Ground Team was in the Pierre area at the Pierre Composite Squadron. They quickly assembled a Ground Team which conducted a ramp check at the Pierre Regional Airport then expanded its search out from the airport. A SDWG aircraft was launched out of Rapid City. When the aircraft arrived in the Pierre area radio contact was established with the Ground Team and a coordinated search was conducted for approximately 45 minutes. Neither the aircraft nor the Ground Team received any hint of a signal despite being in the location where the aircraft had originally heard the beacon. At this point, with no additional data points and no reports of missing or overdue aircraft the search was called off and the SDWG aircraft and Ground Team returned to base. Speculation is that it could be an ELT was accidentally set off on the ground during maintenance or a hard landing by a private aircraft, which when discovered was subsequently turned off. Although the search was not productive it highlighted South Dakota Wing’s readiness both in the air and on the ground – we were out in the field within an hour of getting the mission.
The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, with squadrons in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Rapid City, Pierre, Custer and Spearfish has approximately 300 members, seven light aircraft and 17 multi-purpose vehicles. These assets are available to federal, state and county governments, emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to perform search and rescue, homeland security, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug missions. For information: Wing website at http://sdcap.us, Wing Facebook page www.facebook.com/SDWingCAP,Wing Twitter @SDWingCAP, Wing photos Flickr https://twiter.com/photos/102270464@N02/sets.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. 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 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for more information.