Capt. Paul Loughridge, who developed Civil Air
radar analysis software, works at his home in
Colorado in 2007. The photo was taken during the
massive search for American adventurer Steve Fossett,
who disappeared that Labor Day while flying over
mountainous, high-desert regions in western Nevada
and California. Loughridge and others from the Federal
Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety
Board, Air Force and Navy analyzed the radar data
from Sept. 3, the day Fossett left the airstrip at the
Flying Ranch in Nevada.
Maj. Justin Ogden corresponds with Col.
Brian Ready (pictured on computer
monitor) on a Civil Air Patrol search and
few hiccups, the new procedures developed after the 2011 Joplin tornado
were largely successful.
Desmarais described fiscal years
2014 and 2015 as slow disaster years in terms of with
644 hours logged for Air Forceassigned missions for disaster relief in
2014, declining to only 255 in 2015.
That trend has reversed in 2016, with
1,130 hours flown. Members have
been active in South Carolina,
Louisiana and other Southern states.
Even when a federal disaster is not
declared, FEMA still has an interest in
working to assist the affected states.
Desmarais said the agency hosts all the
disaster imagery collected by CAP, as it
provides situational awareness of what
is happening in real time.
is oftentimes providing some
of the first airborne imagery for any
event, as we are located out in the
communities across the he
said. imagery we collect not only
helps first responders make good decisions locally, but also allows FEMA
and other federal agencies supporting
disaster response to plan.
literally seen our initial
imagery become part of the briefings
to the president of the United States
and other senior government officials,
which helps them decide how best to
respond during the he said.
FEMA would be hard-pressed to
find a more appropriate partner than
Civil Air Patrol. CAP is the ideal
organization to handle aerial observation, documentation and photography
after a major event because its light
craft fly much slower (typically
between 80 and 100 knots) than military planes, allowing for clear, lowlevel photos and video footage to be
taken. CAP is also more cost-effective,
rescue mission. The two men are the
original members of awardwinning Cell Phone Forensics Team,
which along with the CAP National
Radar Analysis Team was credited
with helping save 76 lives in 2016.
giving clients more for their
operating at about $165 per
flying hour instead of the thousands of
dollars military or commercial planes
relationship continues to
grow, and FEMA knows we are ready
to Desmarais said.
during those slow times, we take the
time to improve our processes, train
together and better prepare for the
not a matter of if another disaster will happen that we will have to
work together on, a matter of
when. It will he said.
Starting in 1997 technological
advances meant search and rescue missions that once took days or weeks
could, in some cases, be reduced to
a matter of hours. Today,
National Radar Analysis Team,
founded in 2009 by Lt. Col. John
Henderson and Capt. Guy Loughridge,
provides a formalized structure and
operational procedures for the radar forensics.
The team 11 handpicked specialists, including experts in radar,
weather analysis and software development along with weather and cyber
security experts uses radar, weather,
radar coverage predictions and terrain
warning data to narrow search areas
from thousands of square miles to
sometimes just a couple.
Radar analysts play back radar data
and observe nearby targets. Data recordings may contain tens of millions of
radar targets, each represented as a
or a reflection returned from an
aircraft. Radar sites can see aircraft as
well as birds, cars and weather.
a typical mission, we have the
primary on-call analyst along with several others who join in as available,
then the lead delegates tasks. This has
worked well for us, and we are able to
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