16:58 PM

Hawaii Wing Providing Aerial Photos of Volcano Eruptions

The Hawaii Wing has made three damage assessment flights over the Kīlauea volcanic eruptions, producing 30-70 photos on each sortie for the state Emergency Management Agency to use in evaluating the blasts’ impact and deciding how best to respond.

Lyman Field Composite Squadron aircrews flew sorties May 13 and May 20 to photograph Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone and active lava eruptions and also carried out a May 15 flight to provide a visual height estimate and photos of the Kīlauea summit ash eruption. Operating under the wing’s memorandum of understanding with the Hawaii EMA, seven wing members have participated in the mission, with the Lyman Field Composite Squadron providing support.

The U.S. Geographical Survey has used photos from all three missions and publicly shared the CAP aircrew’s height estimate, which news outlets shared worldwide.

Hundreds of small earthquakes in Kīlauea’s East Rift zone prompted evacuation warnings early this month. On May 3 the volcano erupted in lower Puna after a 5.0 earthquake earlier in the day. Additional explosive eruptions have ensued, producing massive lava flows. Officials have warned that lava flowing into the ocean is forming a hazardous haze known as “laze” that contains microscopic shards of glass that are dangerous to inhale.

First Lt. John Bassett served as mission pilot on the sorties, with Capt. Carol Murray serving as mission observer on May 13 and May 15; 2nd Lt. Susan Bassett as mission scanner May 15 and mission observer May 20; and 2nd Lt. Jason Ozbolt as mission scanner on May 20.