3/12/2003–Baltimore, MD–Flight crews, ground teams, and mission controllers of the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) will be able to work more closely than they ever have before, thanks to a data system that directly transmits pictures from CAP aircraft to a ground station. A group of the wing’s senior members and cadets braved bad weather and snow to see a demonstration of the new video downlink system on Feb. 22 at wing headquarters.
The presentation was made by 2d Lt John Newman, Capt Ray Pauley, and Lt Col Kevin Redman.
"The system enables Maryland Wing aircraft to directly downlink data from Civil Air Patrol aircraft to a decision-maker who is not directly in the field," Redmond said. "CAP missions that would be affected include disaster recovery, homeland security, and counter-drug efforts."
At the time of the demonstration, the wing was on alert status in the event the system might be needed to take photographs for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). The President's Day snowstorm that blanketed Maryland with a record snowfall had increased the potential for flooding.
"We're going to be prepared to take pictures for MEMA," Redman said.
Another use of the system will be during the wing's Bay Patrol program. Each summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day the wing puts two or three aircraft on patrol over the Chesapeake Bay to assist boaters in distress and alert the Coast Guard, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police, and the Maryland State Police to any potential problems.
"It's how we intend to use it," Redmond said about the system’s value to the wing’s Bay Patrol missions. "Regular use of the video downlink system will familiarize crews in its use," he added.
Images placed on the system may be e-mailed and viewed on any computer equipped to receive pictures and can be saved on the receiving computer’s hard drive, on a floppy disk, or on a CD. The unit consists of a transmitter, receiver, video converter unit, and assorted software with a cost of approximately $6,500.
CAP, the official U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, is a civilian, volunteer, nonprofit, service organization whose unpaid members perform more than 85 percent of inland search and rescue missions as authorized by the U.S. Air Force Rescue and Coordination Center. For information, call 1-800-FLY-2338.