Civil Air Patrol joins search for missing Malaysian airliner - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Civil Air Patrol joins search for missing Malaysian airliner

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Days have gone by without any sign of missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370, and now the Civil Air Patrol is joining the growing number of organizations from around the world to assist in the search.

The Civil Air Patrol, or CAP, is headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, but boasts more than 60,000 members nationwide. The organization is responsible for nearly 90 percent of all inland search and rescue missions in the United States.

"It's a normal search and rescue mission," said Lt. Col. John Henderson of Civil Air Patrol's role in the search for the plane that vanished nearly a week ago. Henderson is a radar analyst for the U.S. Air Force's 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron (RADES) at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and serves as vice commander of CAP's 10-member National Radar Analysis Team.

Henderson says the CAP brings experience to the table with many different tools. "We have alot of experience using different types of radar data, and our software toolsare designed to use a lot of different formats of radar data," he explains. "The goal is toutilize the radar data and radar signatures from the aircraft to determine itsultimate flight path."

"Between the 84 RADESand Civil Air Patrol, we have a very robust capability to reduce radar datainto usable and actionable forms, to include stitching together tracks frommultiple radar systems," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ian Kemp, commander ofthe Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

Henderson'sSAR track record is impressive. In 13 years, he has participated in more than600 CAP radar analysis missions with "well over 150 finds" and about 45 livessaved, he said.

In 2007 Henderson helped narrow the search for Adam Flight 574, an Indonesian B-737 that wentmissing during a flight between Surabaya and Manado with 96 passengers and sixcrewmembers aboard. Recruited by the U.S. State Department for assistance aftera massive effort to find the jet failed, Henderson was able to direct searcherswithin a mile of the crash site in 6,500 feet of water in the Makassar Strait.

"Searcherswere having a hard time picking up the black box pings, and the more time thatgoes by, the weaker it becomes," said Henderson, adding, "My analysis got shipsin a very close position so they could pick up the pings." 

"The blackbox is really key to knowing what happened, besides finding the wreckage," hesaid.

Radaranalysis "can be extremely accurate," Henderson said. In the CAP team's case,"over 90 percent of the time we narrow the search area based on forensicsinformation. We've come within 65 feet of where a crash occurred and sometimesmiles. It depends on the radar environment."

The CAP's experience could prove invaluable in a mysterious case that has seen many potential clues to the plane's disappearance, but to-date, none have led to the plane's location.

TO READ MORE on the mysterious disappearance, click here.

ON THE WEB: http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/

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