CAP members practice map reading for land navigation and precise position reporting – skills vital to search and rescue operations.
Courtesy photo

Socorro Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members honed their skills at tasks including search and rescue, radio direction finding, land navigation, and communications as part of a statewide exercise aimed at training and maintaining proficiency. The exercise involved CAP aircrews and ground teams working together and independently on the types of missions that CAP regularly performs in support of local, state, and Federal government agencies.

The Socorro members from the Socorro Composite Squadron and the Socorro High School Cadet Squadron learned new skills and participated in search and rescue exercises including using radio equipment to locate the type of Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) that activate automatically in downed aircraft.

“Often, these transmitters activate accidentally in parked aircraft, and it’s important to find them quickly to rule out the possibility of an actual crash and to get the transmitter turned off to stop the false alarm,” said Socorro Composite Squadron Commander Capt. Chris Kurtnaker.

Socorro CAP cadets and adult members successfully located a practice ELT at a Los Lunas airport hangar on Feb. 4, then located a practice Personal Locator Beacon from a simulated missing hiker the same day. On Feb. 10, they located a practice ELT near Socorro.

Throughout these operations, the teams used CAP’s radios to coordinate the searches with mission managers. They also communicated with other CAP installations across the state. Both within New Mexico and across the nation, CAP has an extensive network of radio facilities that allow CAP to operate independently of commercial communications infrastructure in case of a major disaster.

Socorro’s CAP members also practiced map and navigation skills, and techniques of detailed land searches. The multi-day mission involved more than 75 New Mexico CAP members.

In New Mexico, CAP has more than 650 members in squadrons across the state, along with aircraft, vehicles, and equipment for a variety of missions.

In 2020 and 2021, more than 150 New Mexico CAP members contributed more than 6.5 volunteer work years supporting the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico National Guard in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. CAP crews flew time-sensitive COVID-19 tests from cities around the state to laboratories in Albuquerque for processing. The New Mexico Wing was the first CAP wing in the nation to fly COVID-19 vaccines to destinations where they would be administered to patients.

About the Civil Air Patrol

Founded in 1941 and established as the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force seven years later, Civil Air Patrol is chartered by Congress as a nonprofit organization for the purposes of youth development, aerospace education, and to promote general aviation. In an auxiliary role as a Total Force partner of the Air Force, CAP operates the world’s largest fleet of single-engine aircraft for search and rescue, disaster relief, training, and education. Civil Air Patrol is dedicated to serving America’s communities, saving lives, and shaping futures.

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Dave Finley, Socorro Civil Air Patrol