Members of a California Wing aircrew temporarily mount a Garmin VIRB camera to
their strut to help capture the damage done by wildfires in northern California in
2015. More and more CAP aircraft involved in disaster relief are being outfitted with the
VIRB cameras, which allow aircrews to take ground images from directly above.
the inland SAR missions.
beacons, if properly registered and GPS-enabled, provide a lot
more data than the 121.5 MHz said John Desmarais,
national director of operations.
still search for some 121.5 MHzonly beacons, though. The satellites
no longer monitor for them, but
searches can still be initiated based
on airborne reports, which still
happen, and in those cases we
know who we are looking for or have
are 5,684 members that
have Ground Team or Urban DF
Team qualifications across the country, and CAP has more than 900
ground teams involved in the ground
SAR Desmarais said.
primary emergency services
mission is aerial reconnaissance.
Many CAP aircraft have Garmin
VIRB cameras attached to the wings,
40 Civil Air Patrol Volunteer
allowing for ground images photographed from directly overhead.
The first CAP aircraft with a Cloud
Cap TASE400 sensor system rolled
out this year, providing high-performance real-time graphics for search
and rescue and assisting U.S. Customs
and Border Protection in identifying
illegal aliens crossing the border.
The North Dakota and Wyoming
wings each have Forward Looking
Infrared (FLIR) thermal imaging sensors that pick up infrared radiation.
Mounted to the fuselage, the
small, light FLIR has a continuous
zoom feature allowing the operator,
using a laptop control unit, to view a
wide area and zoom in on targets.
full-motion video system detects
heat given off by such sources as engines,
people and even footprints in snow.
Also, in 2011 1st Air Force provided
CAP with five Geospatial Information
(GIIEP) Designed and
developed by the U.S. Army Space
and Missile Defense Command, the
small, easily portable kits provide
equipment and other hardware and
software that enable real-time and near
real-time full-motion video, imagery
and in-flight chat capabilities with federal, state and local emergency operations centers.
The first kits consisted of a laptop,
hand-held video and still cameras, a
satellite phone and a cellular air card
for 3G connectivity, cords and a
power supply, all in small, heavy-duty
wheeled cases. Aircrews have access
to full-motion video overlaid on 3-D
terrain maps with real-time chat on
a laptop display. CAP has now fielded
dozens more kits of its own and is beta
testing an updated version of the
GIIEP software with the National
Transmitting georeferenced video
imagery in-flight shortens response
times, automatically updates aircraft
and ground team positions on the
Google Earth map at the command
center and provides information about
critical infrastructure, such as power
lines and cell towers.
Also, geotagging capable cameras,
providing high-resolution imagery,
have been fielded for all CAP aircraft.
Geostamping is added to the images.
CAP is even considered for new
mission tools funded by other agencies
and partners. The Real-time Airborne
Management System (RAMS) was
designed under a grant from the
federal Department of Homeland
Security to quickly deliver airborne
imagery to responders.