Navy, Civil Air train together |

Navy, Civil Air train together

by Gary B. Swift

The Douglas County Civil Air Patrol squadron hosted a joint training exercise April 9 that included the Navy’s Longhorns Search and Rescue team from Fallon Naval Air Station at Minden-Tahoe Airport.

The exercise included traditional air search tasks, as well as disaster relief and homeland security scenarios.

Incident commander Civil Air Patrol Col. Russell Smith was enthusiastic about the Navy’s participation in the training exercise.

“CAP hardly ever gets to work with helicopters,” he said, “and it makes good sense for us to learn how to coordinate with the search and rescue folks from Fallon NAS.”

The day started slowly due to weather-related delays, but CAP crews eventually arrived from Reno, South Lake Tahoe, and Winnemucca. Another crew from Elko, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary unit at Lake Tahoe were not able to participate due to the weather.

The Longhorns provided the services of their workhorse helicopter, an HH-1N Iroquois (twin-engine Huey) while the CAP used an assortment of Cessna fixed-wing airplanes. The aircrews searched for visual and electronic targets on the ground, and practiced taking aerial reconnaissance photographs.

The Navy crew brought a little more “horsepower” with them than they would normally have on a mission. Their base Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Doug Russell joined the crew for the exercise. A helicopter pilot himself, Russell took the left seat as co-pilot.

“Working with the CAP’s ‘high bird’ communications relay plane was great,” said Longhorns mission pilot, Lt. Kevin Heiss. “Usually, we work alone, and we fly so low that our line of sight radio doesn’t let us talk to anyone until we get pretty close to being on-scene.”