Friday, October 18, 2013

Auburn SAREX and First Find

Auburn SAREX
Auburn Airport
Capt Donald Eichelberger, Lt George Michelogiannakis, and Lt Eric Choate attended the Auburn SAREX on 24-25 Aug 13.  Capt Eichelberger who flew as a Mission Pilot (MP) mentioned that the SAREX was well "worth the effort of being there" and that "being at a remote location was good practice if we have to travel for a mission."

Both Lt Michelogiannakis and Lt Choate accomplished a number of flights each and were successful in received their accompanying sign offs. Lt Michelogiannakis achieved his Mission Observer wings and Lt Choate achieved his Mission Scanner rating.

Lt Eric Choate standing in front of CAP445
Capt Eichelberger also mentioned that the Rim Fire caused extensive smoke that blanketed the area on the Saturday.  He relates that "We had smoke from fires on Saturday (almost IFR in our search area), but Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day to fly because of the front that went through."

CAP445's First Find
Written by Lt Col John Aylesworth
CAP445 was on a training sortie near the Sutter Buttes on Sunday 25 August with aircrew members Maj Randy Weatherhead (Mission Pilot Trainee), Lt Col John Aylesworth (Mission Pilot Mentor) and Chris Baker (Mission Scanner Trainee). The crew was re-tasked to land at Lincoln (LHM) airport to assist a ground team DF a "no play" 406 MHz beacon for a mission opened early the previous morning.

CAP445 at Auburn Airport
Four previous air and two ground sorties had been launched to find this Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) which was only transmitting a burst every 50 seconds on 406.03x MHz with no 121.5 MHz homing signal. This complicated finding it as the ground teams had no mobile gear to home in on a 406 MHz only signal.

After getting bearings in the air confirming LHM as the likely location the crew landed. While on approach the Becker/Rhotheta RT-600 direction finder indicated bearings pointing to the east side of the field from a group of hangers. After landing, the aircraft was taxied up and down hanger rows until they "had it surrounded" and pretty much pinpointed to one hanger based on bearings while on the ground and Intel gathered by the ground team from locals at the airport in nearby hangers.

The crew's procedure had been to taxi 10-20 feet and stop in an open intersection between hanger rows, wait until the next 50 second burst, then taxi another 10-20 feet and take another bearing, turning where appropriate in the indicated direction. This worked very well. After returning to base, the Incident Commander (IC) thoroughly debriefed the crew using Google Earth and asked them to describe procedures and bearings. The IC confirmed that the following morning the airport manager had accessed the identified hanger and found the 406 MHz beacon.

Congratulations to the crew and CAP445 on its first find!

Pictures courtesy of Lt George Michelogiannakis, and Lt Eric Choate