The Tennessee Wing of the Civil Air Patrol took to the skies over Greene County on Saturday as part of a simulated search-and-rescue exercise for a downed aircraft.
Col. Arlinda Bailey, who was overseeing the CAP emergency services exercise, said there was various training exercises taking place during the event, including:
• air crew and mission base training,
• aerial photography training, and
• ground search training.
Ground teams, Bailey explained, are primarily used for airplane crash or missing person searches.
“They are also available to help with disaster relief,” she added.
Bailey noted that Civil Air Patrol crews were utilized in Greene County following the 2011 tornadoes.
Close to 40 individuals took part in the training event on Saturday, according to Clarence Juneau, a public affairs officer with the Civil Air Patrol.
He noted that the organization generally holds about four large-scale training exercises annually.
To prepare for Saturday’s search-and-rescue exercise, the shell of an old airplane fuselage, equipped with an electronic location transmitter, was taken to an undisclosed area within Greene County. Next, it was up CAP members to find the “crashed” plane on Saturday.
Using electronic signaling, the air crew teams were subsequently able to locate the “downed” plane on the grounds of Locust Springs Christian Retreat near Baileyton.
Downed airplanes, particularly in mountainous terrain with thick foliage, can be difficult to spot. A plane’s electronic transmitter can send out a signal to alert air crews, which helps to narrow down the search area. Finally, it is up to ground search crews to physically access the crash site.
The air search teams, using four airplanes, were based at the Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport, while the ground crews, most of whom were teenage CAP cadets, were based at the former Cedar Creek School/Learning Center in southern Greene County.
The cadets did not go out to the “crash” site during their training exercise. However, they did visit a small private airfield in Washington County for additional training.
“In Civil Air Patrol, we use both adults and teens for our emergency services missions,” Juneau explained.
Youth cannot participate in air activities until they are 18 years old. However, Juneau noted that these young members still have…