ARL employee participates in search and rescue exercise

May 08, 2012

Story Highlights

  • ARL Chief of Operations Center, Jerry Weiss, is an active Civil Air Patrol participant.
  • CAP performs the non-combat mission of the Air Force.
  • CAP volunteers perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction mission.

In addition to conducting his daily duties as chief of the operations center at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Jerry Weiss is also very active in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Weiss is a former Maryland Wing Commander (2006–2010) and the current A3/5 Operations and Plans Officer.

CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. The Maryland Wing is the eight largest of the 52 Wings in CAP with over 1500 assigned and 12 aircraft.

"CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs the non-combat mission of the Air Force and does 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011," said Col. Kay Joslin Walling, CAP, Maryland Wing Public Affairs.

CAP volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program.

Weiss joined the Maryland Wing in 1999 along with his daughter Joanna and has served as a Squadron Commander, Group Commander and Wing Commander.

"The reward of being a member of CAP is watching so many young cadets grow into productive citizens. Many learn to fly and many cadets choose to enter the military," said Weiss.

Weiss's daughter soloed as a pilot when she was 16, received a full Air Force ROTC scholarship to Penn State and is now a Civil Engineer officer in the U.S. Air Force. Weiss, as a retired U.S. Army Colonel, had the privilege to give the oath of office to his daughter at her commissioning ceremony.

Weiss was instrumental in the planning and evaluation of the search and rescue exercise that began Friday, April 13. The Maryland Wing was notified of a missing aircraft. The aircraft departed Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster, Md., at noon on a training flight.

"A mission base was established at Carroll County Regional Airport to conduct the search," said Weiss. "The Wing used the Mobile Incident Command Post and two of the Wing's Transportable Incident Command Posts to conduct the mission.

Weiss said the flight scenario was planned to cover four local airports: FDK (Frederick, Md.), W42 (Fallston, Md.) 58M (Elkton, Md.) and ESN (Easton, Md.). The scenario had the aircraft last seen departing FDK at 12:55 p.m. on Friday, April 13. The initial search area covered Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore, Harford, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties.

As the search for the missing aircraft got underway, the Coast Guard requested assistance in a search for a missing boater. The exercise scenario had a captain of a boat reporting a missing passenger. The boat departed North East, Md., at 9 p.m. At the time the passenger was reported missing, the boat was rounding Turkey Point due west of Elk Neck State Park. Maryland aircrews and ground teams found both the overdue aircraft and the missing boater. By 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 both survivors had been transported to a local hospital.

"The exercise ended the way Maryland Wing hopes all actual missions end – with the survivors being reunited with their families," said Walling.

The search and rescue exercise is part of Maryland Wing's ongoing preparedness for actual emergencies which is evaluated and recertified by the U.S. Air Force every other year. Six aircraft, five ground teams, and a total of 56 personnel took part in the exercise. Participants were given the opportunity to practice the skills necessary to conduct an actual search and rescue mission.

"We are all volunteers," said Weiss. "The U.S. Air Force provides the planes, vans, communications equipment and some training funds so we can train to do the Air Force's non-combat mission of search and rescue. We have done this for real and brought closure to families."

Weiss said the CAP is constantly getting new personnel coming into the Wing so exercises are a way to test the skills that are needed.

"We have very disciplined training requirements for each role. Aircrews, Ground Teams and Incident Command Staff have to be trained and demonstrate their skills before they are certified for that particular position," said Weiss. "This exercise validated our abilities to perform the Air Force mission and was a tune up for our upcoming evaluation by the Air Force in June."


Last Update / Reviewed: May 8, 2012