Hawaii Wing Provides Aerial View, Photos of Mauna Loa Eruption
The Hawaii Wing flew a U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist over newly erupted Mauna Loa early Nov. 28 while also providing photos of lava flows and other activity stemming from the first eruption of the world’s largest active volcano since 1984.
First Lt. John Bassett took off at 6:45 a.m. from Hilo International Airport in a CAP plane with volcanologist Ms. Natalia Deligne and 1st Lt. Susan Bassett, aerial photographer, aboard. They flew over the Mauna Loa summit and the North East Rift Zone.
A second flight, also piloted by John Bassett, followed at 4:42 p.m. with 2nd Lt. Jason Dzurizin, aerial photographer, and 1st Lt. Jason Ozbolt, mission observer, aboard. Bassett circled around the Northeast and Southwest Rift Zones as Dzurizin took photos and video.
Luke Meyers, the state’s Emergency Management Agency administrator, flew with CAP on Dec. 1.
“This was a good opportunity to see the hazards and threats from the Mauna Loa eruption,” Meyers said. “It really gave me a better perspective of the situation and where the lava flow is going.”
Meyers said the primary threat now is from lava flow approaching a main transportation route — Saddle Road, also known as Daniel K. Inouye Highway. The route links the east and west sides of the Big Island.
Officials will be able to review CAP imagery taken on the flight to further evaluate the situation, he said.
The EMA is thankful for Civil Air Patrol’s support, and the flight Thursday was “a good opportunity to build on the partnership,” Meyers said, adding he anticipates more flights will be necessary as Mauna Loa is likely to remain active for “a significant period of time.”
Bassett piloted the 2½-hour flight on Thursday with Meyers, while Capt. Carol Murray was the mission observer.
The Bassetts, Dzurizin, Murray, and Ozbolt all belong to the Hawaii’s Lyman Field Composite Squadron. Ozbolt is the squadron’s commander.
According to the USGS, "Lava flows are not threatening any downslope communities and all indications are that the eruption will remain in the Northeast Rift Zone. Volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele's Hair may be carried downwind ... Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa rift zone eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly."
2nd Lt. Janel Fujinaka
Public Affairs Officer