EAA AirVenture Support Involves 300+ Members, 21,700 Hours
The Wisconsin Wing and National Blue Beret participants have wrapped up search support and other assistance as part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, with more than 300 Civil Air Patrol members amassing over 50 flight hours and conducting almost 400 ground sorties as part of the mission, totaling an estimated 21,700 volunteer hours.
The CAP search teams also found 42 missing aircraft safe at their destination and deactivated seven nondistress beacons.
EAA AirVenture, the world’s largest fly-in, ended July 31 with record-setting numbers — 677,000 people in attendance at Wittman Regional Airport, over 10,000 aircraft flying into central Wisconsin with almost 22,000 aircraft operations, and a total of 3,365 show aircraft.
As part of the weeklong event, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center activated the Wisconsin Wing to monitor aircraft movement and listen for emergency locator transmitters within 50 miles of Oshkosh, which included Wittman Regional and four other surrounding airports as well as several lakes in the area.
The wing’s mission, which started several days before the air show and lasted nearly a week after it, took on added importance when two aircraft crashes July 29 left four people dead and two injured. The first crash was a T-6 with two on board that crashed in Lake Winnebago, and the second was on the field at AirVenture, where two more died. Both crashes are under investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board.
“This was the worse day in many years at AirVenture,” said Lt. Col. Dean Klassy, mission public affairs officer. “Since one of the crashes happened on-site, we did an immediate accountability survey to make sure we could account for all of our members, along with determining what additional tasks we could help with if requested.
“We had a plan for this type of mission and how the mission headquarters would handle this,” Klassy said.
The accident at Wittman Field caused multiple ELTs to activate, prompting CAP members to work to make sure the beacons didn’t interfere with the investigation while also continuing to meet normal mission requirements.
“The Wisconsin Wing prides itself on running one of the largest precautionary missions in CAP, in close cooperation with the AFRCC and the Flight Service Station,” said Maj. Nicholas Rushizky, the mission’s incident commander as well as the wing’s director of emergency services. “We had members from Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and New Mexico who responded to the wing’s request for help for this year’s mission.”
In addition to its search and rescue mission, Civil Air Patrol also provided flight line marshalling, directing aircraft to their correct parking areas, and provided crowd control during the air show and security around the aircraft displays as part of National Blue Beret — a CAP cadet special activity that attracted nearly 200 youth and adult members from 43 wings in all eight regions. Blue Beret is one of CAP’s oldest leadership training experiences for youth.