Civil Air Patrol ready for wave

Civil Air Patrol squadrons from around the state converged at the Lihu‘e Airport for a multi-agency tsunami-scenario training yesterday.

In the event of an approaching tsunami, Civil Defense sirens would sound and planes would conduct low-flight alerts around the coastline.

Kaua‘i Squadron Cmdr. Ron Victorino said the county’s Civil Defense and the Civil Air Patrol are finalizing an agreement to incorporate the patrol’s low-flight warnings into Civil Defense’s siren testing on the first working day of each month.

Yesterday representatives from patrol squadrons around the state practiced these low-altitude tsunami warnings.

“Normally we fly no lower than 1,500 feet,” Victorino said. “But for this exercise, the planes will make passes at 1,000 feet. In a real alert, they can fly as low as 500 feet.”

Utilizing public address systems attached to the plane, the public is alerted either through a siren, or in certain cases, a broadcast alert from the plane’s pilot.

A central registration system accounted for all personnel involved and was situated next to a briefing area where all the pilots received instructions on the different missions. Radio communications maintained contact with the aircraft once it left the flight line.

Lihu‘e Airport Manager George Crabbe said the scenario was an exercise of people working together.

“I’m a CAP member, but for today, I’m in civies, representing the airport,” Crabbe said. “The CAP is wonderful. They’ve been involved in the savings of countless lives.”

Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force and can be involved in all air search and rescue operations, he said.

“This can be a boost to the county,” Victorino said. “When there are lost boats or aircraft, lost swimmers or hikers, the police and fire departments can request help from the CAP. This is all free to the county.”

The training also gave squadron representatives an opportunity to see the newest plane in the patrol state fleet: a Cessna 182, which arrived at Lihu‘e Airport just weeks ago.

On hand to help with the action were Civil Air Patrol cadets, who assisted the radio communication station as well as on the flight line welcoming and parking planes.

Joshua Simpkins, a student at Kaua‘i High School, said the current group of 10 cadets could use some new members.

“We need more,” he said.

Cadets as young as 12 can join the patrol, which offers an opportunity to learn how to pilot a plane. Cadet Matthew Heller recently became certified as a glider pilot.

Cadets also receive aerospace education, go through drills, learn physical training and get involved in extra curricular activities like camping.

“CAP not only teaches young people how to fly,” Victorino said. “Our last graduate, Reyn Mossman, is currently a junior at West Point. CAP is a good starting point for any student.”

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