16:29 PM

Md. Wing Members Spot Debris Fields in Search for Missing Plane

Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing, responding to a report of a missing aircraft on Thursday, found several debris fields and contributed to the location of the plane wreckage.

At 10:42 a.m. the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center asked the wing to assist in locating a missing Cessna 172S Skyhawk. The plane, based at Martin State Airport, was last seen in the vicinity of Ocean City, Maryland, and was reported missing when the crew did not return to the airport.

Maryland Wing members worked actively with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maryland Natural Resources Police and Maryland State Police and the State Police cell phone forensics unit. Lt. Col. Jon Royer, CAP incident commander, coordinated the CAP search and rescue effort locally and engaged with CAP's National Radar Analysis Team and the National Cell Phone Forensics Team to obtain search clues through analysis of radar and cell phone data.

Maryland Wing planes and aircrews were directed to perform a route search, and ground teams were alerted for possible use. An incident command post was established at Martin State Airport with staff from CAP National Headquarters, the Middle East Region and the Maryland Wing.

The crash scene was widespread, covering at least five debris fields in the Atlantic Ocean east of Ocean City and north of Assateague Island. Department of Natural Resources Police located an oil sheen and helped focus the search force effort.

Working under State Police Aviation Division Trooper 4 coordination, CAP aircrews found four more debris fields and relayed the positions to State Police, Natural Resources Police and Coast Guard helicopters and surface vessels, which collected the items. By nightfall a substantial number of items had been recovered — some of which positively indicated the debris came from the missing Cessna.

The State Police Dive Team Underwater Recovery Unit continues to operate in the area, and news reports Thursday evening and this morning indicate rescuers have located the aircraft fuselage.

Royer remarked that this level of multi-jurisdiction interoperation — federal, state and local — can be complicated. “This was a fine example of integration and support to local authorities, showcasing the special capabilities that each of our organizations brings to a mission and leading to the success of this search operation,” he said.

The AFRCC has credited the mission with a “Distress Find.”