'Operation Northern Exposure' Hones Mich. Members' Emergency Response Skills
Capt. Robert Townsend
Public Affairs Officer
Highpoint Composite Squadron
"Operation Northern Exposure" brought about 50 members from across the Michigan Wing to St. Ignace's Mackinac County Airport for a full-scale training exercise focused on a complex missing person search.
Most of the participants were training in various mission specialties. Many had to fill multiple roles and coordinate with other staff members during the weekend.
The exercise, in which four Wisconcsin Wing mission pilots also participated, focused on a search that involved working with multiple local agencies as well as a friends-and-family group that had been looking for the lost individual for days before Civil Air Patrol arrived on the scene.
A mission base set up at the airport used three full ground teams as well as multiple aircrews to conduct searches and photographic missions. In addition, a full communication network using long-range high frequency radios was deployed to aid air-to-ground and air-to-air communications.
The framework for the Federal Emergency Management Agency-style operation was designed to handle anything from a lost hunter to a hurricane-level disaster. CAP annually conducts four to six such missions throughout Michigan.
Senior members handled air operations, while mission base, ground teams and communications used cadets extensively.