Most of the 3 hour mission over Long Island Sound on July 19 was uneventful for the Connecticut Wing aircrew of the CAP Cessna 182. “Earlier in the flight, we saw very little activity on the water; hardly any sailboats at all, a few powerboats and those appeared mostly to be fishing, a couple of small tankers swinging on their hooks, and the Port Jefferson and Orient Point ferryboats operating as normal,” said Sanderson. As evening approached, the flight turned west to return to mission base at Danbury Municipal Airport, Danbury, Connecticut. Suddenly the crew heard a “weak and garbled transmission”
The Civil Air Patrol aircrew located the vessel near the south end of the Connecticut River and provided its location to the Coast Guard. “The boat captain was sort of excited as he was drifting near a rocky jetty and had his wife and two children on board. We got him calmed down and the Coast Guard squared him away about getting help,” said Sanderson. The CAP aircrew remained in orbit over the disabled boat until a helper vessel, Prudence, arrived on the scene. With the safety of the boaters assured, the flight cleared the area and headed home. "At that point we were not needed any longer, so we left our orbit, climbed away and returned to Danbury Airport,” said Sanderson.
Representative Janice R. Giegler is a major in Civil Air Patrol’s Connecticut Legislative Squadron and a staunch supporter of Civil Air Patrol and the missions Connecticut Wing conducts in support of the State. Lieutenant Colonel Sanderson said Representative Giegler, serving as the spotter, provided valuable help during the incident. “She kept the vessel in sight and kept me well informed on what was happening, including the arrival of the helper vessel.”
Civil Air Patrol’s Connecticut Wing conducts aerial safety patrols over Long Island Sound on weekends during the summer months in support of the U.S. Coast Guard. On typical weekends Long Island Sound is busy with recreational boaters and this incident serves as a reminder of the risks of going out on the Sound. A key feature of Connecticut Wing’s operation is to provide aerial identification of vessels in distress and convey that information to the Coast Guard in order to ensure a rapid response to those in danger.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals 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 more than 25,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for over 70 years, CAP will receive the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, www.capvolunteernow.com and www.capgoldmedal.com for more information.