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Posted: March 2, 2017 11:14 a.m.

Civil Air Patrol takes flight in Covington

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Newton Squadron Members, Father and sons trio Cadet Airman Matthew Mitchell (Covington), Cadet Airman Gabriel Mitchell (Covington), and 2LT Floyd Mitchell (Covington). (Submitted Photo | The Covington News)

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Newton County Civil Air Patrol (CAP) hosted a state-wide exercise to locate a simulated missing aircraft, emergency locator transmitters and disaster relief support.

The exercise, known as a “SAREX”, allows volunteer members a chance to train or practice search and rescue skills through simulations of actual missions. CAP, who is tasked to respond to more than 90 percent of all inland SAR and disaster relief missions, is a volunteer organization tasked with three primary missions: cadet programs, emergency services and aerospace education. Emergency Services allows both adult and youth members an opportunity to participate.

Members from Newton County Composite Squadron, Dekalb Cadet Squadron, Gwinnett Composite Squadron, Athens Composite Squadron, Walton County Composite Squadron, Cobb County Composite Squadron and Georgia Wing HQ reported to the Covington Municipal Airport early Saturday morning and responded as if this were an actual mission. The crews included ground, air, and mission base staff members.

“We were proud to be a host to a statewide exercise and participate in practicing our skills and finalizing training for some of our members. It was our honor to facilitate a large exercise to keep our skills sharp so we are always ready for an actual mission and provide the same to other squadrons,” Paul Rekamp, 1st LT, Commander- Newton County Composite Squadron, said.

These exercises allow for members throughout the wing to get together, practice in a realistic setting and remain fully trained and ready to assist in a time of need.

CAP, first chartered in 1941 and tasked with border patrol to keep the homeland safe, is called on today to search for missing or overdue aircraft, missing persons and provide airborne photography to assist searchers in assessing damages from natural disasters. CAP is also tasked with locating “ELTs” (Emergency Locator Transmitters) that are activated. Every General Aviation aircraft contains an ELT that is activated when a plane crashes. These transmitters send a signal that is monitored by the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and CAP responds to locate and verify the source of the ELT and rescue survivors.

Saturday’s practice included ELT scenarios, disaster relief scenarios, and air searches. As they would in a real search, the exercises included a fully operational, self-sustained communication, a mission base, and air and ground operations all working out of the Covington Airport.

Membership in CAP is open to youth from sixth grade to 18 years old, and adult volunteers ages 18 and older. The Newton Squadron meets weekly on Monday nights starting at 7 p.m. in the lobby of the Covington Municipal Airport. In addition to Emergency Services, CAP offers cadet programs to teach youth leadership skills and aerospace education including a chance to fly airplanes in orientation flights. For more information about CAP contact the commander, Paul Rekamp at reck788@bellsouth.net or come to the next meeting.

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