19:54 PM

Radar Analysis Team Uses New Tool to Lead Searchers to Downed Seaplane

CIvil Air Patrol's National Radar Analysis Team used a brand-new tool to quickly guide searchers to a crashed seaplane near New Orleans in bad weather, resulting in the rescue of two people — two of four saves credited Sunday to CAP.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination center activated the radar team to help find the missing plane, a Cessna 206, after a local fishing charter service reported the aircraft missing with three people aboard Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard had deployed a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew to search for the plane in the Chandeleur Sound amid heavy rain and choppy seas.

The CAP radar team quickly responded by using a newly developed tool — still considered to be in the beta testing stage — that makes innovative use of ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) technology to quickly locate a target.

The team was able to provide the Coast Guard with the downed plane’s latitude and longitude “within a couple of minutes” after obtaining the ADS-B data “in 15-30 seconds,” said Lt. Col. Mark Young, team commander. “It all went fast and perfectly.”

The team “had brought (the tool) online about three weeks ago” and was using it for only about the third time, he added. “We’re just thrilled that this new product would work so quickly and so accurately.”

The other person on board the Cessna did not survive the crash, according to the Coast Guard.

Also Sunday:

  • CAP’s National Cell Phone Forensics Team contributed to the successful search for a missing woman, 51, in Lucas County, Ohio.
  • Michigan Wing searchers participated in a search in the air and on the ground in Houghton County for an 82-year-old woman with dementia who walked away from her home. She was subsequently located alive.

The AFRCC awarded CAP with saves for each mission, bringing the organization's total to 112 for fiscial year 2019.