What Some of Your FASF Members do in Their Spare Time

FASF Members in Action – By CAP Captain Joseph I. Perea

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L to R above: Captain Joseph Parea and Lt. Alma Villezcas in front of CAP Squadron 24’s Cessna 182

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is America’s premier public service organization for carrying out emergency services and disaster relief missions nationwide. As the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, CAP’s vigilant citizen volunteers are there to search for and find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe. Its 60,000 members selflessly devote their time, energy and expertise toward the well-being of their communities, while also promoting aviation and related fields through aerospace education and helping shape future leaders through CAP’s national cadet program.

Supporting America’s communities with emergency response, diverse aviation and ground services, youth development, and promotion of air, space and cyber power.”

On the 20th of September, 2018, the Las Cruces, NM CAP Squadron elected to plan and execute a special mission to help drill two of their Observer and Scanners Trainees on the procedures employed in actual real-life Search and Rescue (SAR) missions and, in that effort, to attempt to find a downed aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), which device is affixed to all aircraft and is automatically triggered if the plane crashes.

The Observer’s task is to help the search plane’s Pilot plan and then perform: (1) a route search; (2) a point-based search;  or (3) a “creeping line” search; and to ensure that all members in the flight crew obtain sufficient rest during crew rest periods.  In addition to those specific procedures and duties, there are many other responsibilities of the Observer on all flights.

The Scanner’s primary role is to perform an effective visual search, maintaining constant eye contact with the ground, while flying over the search area. Other duties and responsibilities are to wear appropriate clothing such as gloves, sunglasses and a uniform appropriate for the climate and terrain, and to carry and properly use equipment, such as binoculars and high-resolution cameras, and to report all observations and detailed sightings precisely in regard to the exact geographic Latitude and Longitude.


The following photographs are of the crew engaged in this particular SAR Training Mission on the 20th, both planning, then actually getting aboard the Cessna, departing for flight, and then debriefing after the mission.

               Captain Perea checking mission planning on computer prior to departure

                   Lt. Villezcas listening to the mission Pilot explain the planned activities

Crew leaves the Briefing Room and heads out to the plane.  L to R: Capt. Benziger, Capt. Perea, Lt. Villezcas

On ramp, L to R: Captain William Benziger, Pilot, Lt. Villezcas, Scanner Trainee, and Captain Perea, Observer Trainee.  Perea is already a fully-trained Radio Communications Officer.  CAP senior members often obtain cross-training in various professional skills.

L to R: Pilot, Benziger, explains plan to Observer Trainee, Perea.  Although Capt. Perea is holding a paper Mission Record Log, much of the old paper work has now been completely shifted to the use of computer driven pads for mission recording and management purposes.

L to R above: Pilot, Benziger, examines his own Check Lists for the mission.  Perea on continues to get ready.

Buckled in and ready to go, Lt. Villezcas, Scanner Trainee, gives the thumbs up signal.  While shooting photos of the mission target below, the Scanner opens the small window within the main window along side of her in order to capture an unabstructed high-resolution shot.

The Mission Cessna taxis out to the runway for takeoff.

Crew defriefs in the CAP Offices after the mission completed. L to R: Captain Benziger, Lt. Villezcas, Captain Perea.



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