The close of September brings us to the end of the fiscal year. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP), as the US Air Force Auxiliary, follows the calendar of the federal government which includes our budgets and our annual statistics. We will begin “crunching” the numbers in October to determine what Squadron in each Group will be the Squadron of the Year for the Group and which will be the Maryland Wing Squadron of the Year. We will also select the Group of the Year. Do you want to be there when we make the announcement? Then I encourage you to sign up for the Maryland Wing Conference, to be held on November 11-13, and be ready to celebrate our success. This year, our registration is available completely online or in paper form, please check your e-mail or visit www.mdcap.org to find out more information today!
As a Wing we have had an amazing year. We will close out the year with 12official finds and three saves. There is actually one more find due to making a find during a search for a missing person but it was not the person we were actually looking for. What I am the most proud of is the three saves we recorded during the year. Having been fortunate enough during my time in CAP to be an active participant in saving several lives there is nothing more rewarding than that. If I am honest with myself, one of the reasons I have stayed an active member in search and rescue (SAR) is the feeling I got back in the late 1970’s when I helped save the life of my first missing person. This year we have a number of Maryland Wing members who now share that same experience. Honoring them is another reason to come out to the conference on November 11-13.
This past month according to the commander’s dashboard, a collection of important metrics tracked by national headquarters, we reached the national goal of having over 200 hours per aircraft assigned to the Wing. This falls a little short of our wing goals but places us tenth in the nation. When you consider that one of our aircraft has been in the shop for a complete refurbishment and we started the year out in the hole due to the delay in passing a budget for the federal government, we did pretty well!
Our Special Missions, A2directorate, working with the U.S. Coast Guard successfully flew a tracking mission with one of our CAP aircraft equipped with Automatic Identification System (AIS). AIS is an automated tracking system used on ships and by Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and VTS stations. Maj. Tim Strickland authored a paper for the Coast Guard proposing that they could use the ship tracking systems to also track aircraft. Under an agreement with the Coast Guard we installed the AIS system on one of our aircraft and tested the ability to track it, simulating a helicopter, flying from Cape May, NJ, to North Carolina. This program has been in process for several years and thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff and aircrews we have demonstrated that the concept works.
October is also the beginning of our FY 2012 Annual Training Plan (ATP). It will soon be available for you to download and review on the Maryland Wing website. The wing Yearly Training Calendar (YTC) will also be reflected on the on-line calendar on our website. Stay up to date and mark your personal calendar for the important events you won’t want to miss.
Our newest squadron, the Charles Composite Squadron MD-019 was officially presented its charter at a ceremony on September 26, 2011. They meet at Maryland Airport (2W5), 3830 Livingston Road, Indian Head, MD 20640 every Monday night. Congratulations to the squadron, its first commander, Lt. Col. John F. Reutemann, III, and all the members in the wing that have worked to stand up this new unit. I would also like to thank Lt. Col. Tim Corrigan, Lt. Col. Wes LaPre, Lt. Col. Rob Couch, and Maj Jeff Welch who have spent many hours nurturing the concept of bringing CAP back to Charles County and making it happen.
Let me finish up with a couple of reminders. Autumn is officially here and with that brings shorter days and a drop in temperature. We have also seen more than our share of rain. The combination of darkness, reduced visibility due to rain and wet roads present a potential hazard for everyone. I encourage all of us to slow down, keep a sharp eye out and prevent any accidents. Our safety “down day,” when we pause to focus on safety, is October 22nd. We ask all units in the Wing to pause operations and review the importance of safety. Details will be coming from the Wing Safety Officer to assist all the units in the Wing. Last, but not least, remember to register for the Wing Conference. We have a great list of activities planned and I hope to see everyone at Turf Valley on November 11, 12 and 13th.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Maryland Wing