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Civil Air Patrol staying busy

The Civil Air Patrol — South Dakota Wing is growing.

The Wing has activated a new unit, the Mitchell Flight based in Mitchell. According to Col. David Small, commander of the S.D. Wing of CAP, this brings the number of CAP units in South Dakota to nine.

In other updates, on June 1 more than 40 CAP volunteers from across the state gathered at the Black Hills Airport to hone their skills as aviators and first responders. Among the activities were search and rescue (SAR) training for aircrews and ground teams, and orientation flights for cadets.

The SAR training involved air crews searching for electronic targets similar to the emergency radio beacons activated when an airplane crashes. They then directed teams on the ground to the notional crash sites in order to practice securing the scene and searching for survivors. Three CAP aircraft were put to use throughout the event.

In addition, though not part of the SAR training, the Wing conducted hands-on training with small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS).

Commonly called drones, these aircraft can be used to rapidly search an area; for example, they can be operated by ground teams to quickly locate lost hikers or hunters.

Col. Mike Beason has been approved as a sUAS mission pilot, instructor pilot, and check pilot. He joins Lt. Col. Craig Goodrich as a mission pilot, and Col. David Small as a sUAS mission/instructor/check pilot. The SD CAP would like to have at least eight sUAS mission pilots in the wing by the end of this year.