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Civil Air Patrol Trains for a Tsunami

March 26, 2021

Civil Air Patrol Takes to the Skies to exercise their Airborne Public Address System

Location – CONCORD, Calif and SANTA ROSA, Calif.

At 11:00 AM, Wednesday, March 24, 2021 the National Weather Service activated a test of the Civil Air Patrol airborne public address system (APAS) as part of their Tsunami Warning Communications Test. The Civil Air Patrol launched three aircraft over Northern California and our distinctive Red, White, and Blue aircraft provided the broadcasted message to the Northern California Coast of “this is a test of the Civil Air Patrol public address system".

 Maj Karin Hollerbach and Capt George Zioulas preflight the Highbird Aircraft. Photo by C/2d Lt AcevedoCivil Air Patrol dispatched aircraft and crews from Concord and Santa Rosa to fly the Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties coastline with the aerial messaging system. A third aircraft launched from Livermore to act as a command-and-control platform for radio relays between the two broadcasting aircraft and the virtual mission base.

The purpose of this test was to educate residents and visitors along the coast to one of the many ways they may receive warning of an impending tsunami.

Maj Karin Hollerbach and Capt George Zioulas preflight the Highbird Aircraft. Photo by C/2d Lt Acevedo

Lt Col Joseph Fernandes demonstrates the APAS system during training for the Tsunami Warning Exercise. Photo by 1st Lt Ronald SicatAccording to Mr. Ryan Aylward of the National Weather Service “A tsunami could occur along the California coast caused by a large earthquake anywhere in the Pacific Ocean. A tsunami originating from Japan would give approximately 11 hours of advance warning or four hours from Alaska. For distant source events like these the Civil Air Patrol can be an excellent asset to warn the public. However, an earthquake just off the California coast would provide only minutes of warning before the first wave arrives.”

Lt Col Joseph Fernandes demonstrates the APAS system during training for the Tsunami Warning Exercise. Photo by 1st Lt Ronald Sicat

 Capt Luis Rivas preflights the APAS Speakers. Photo by Lt Col LuneauThe APAS was designed to provide messages to warn the public who might not otherwise receive emergency alerts. In addition to the airborne system, counties and the National Weather Service utilized the Emergency Alert System, telephone notification systems, a network of coastal sirens, law-enforcement and other emergency services personnel to notify residents to get away from the coast towards higher ground.

Aircrews from NorCal Group 5 and San Francisco Bay Group 2 diligently trained on the APAS for two weekends prior to the exercise on March 24. Three training sessions were held and members were instructed on the ground and in the air on how to setup the APAS and conduct a sortie.

Capt Luis Rivas preflights the APAS Speakers. Photo by Lt Col Luneau

Civil Air Patrol Major Jeffrey Ironfield, the incident commander trainee stated that it is important to exercise this system regularly so both the crews and the public react quickly and appropriately when the emergency occurs.

Tagged As: Emergency Services Group 2 Group 5 Tsunami

For More Information:

CAP Contact: Lt Col Noel Luneau, contact us

Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives in fiscal 2020. CAP’s 54,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to over 20,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. One of the premier public service organizations in America, CAP benefits the nation with an estimated economic impact of $209 million annually. Visit www.CAP.News or www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.

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