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First Air Force, Air Forces Northern provides Hurricane Ida aerial assessments

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Amos Plante, Civil Air Patrol

(Sept. 1, 2021) – Aircrews and ground teams with First Air Force’s Air Force Auxiliary have joined federal and Louisiana state emergency managers’ efforts to assess Hurricane Ida’s impact.

Since Tuesday afternoon, the Civil Air Patrol Louisiana Wing, acting as the official U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, has flown five extensive aerial sorties, photographing areas of severe wind damage and flooding in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area and in areas extending from Thibodaux south to Houma and southeast to Galliano.  

Their mission is to gather aerial and ground-level photos and data for use by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Louisiana as they continue to endure the effects of the hurricane,” said Brig. Gen. William Betts, vice commander, First Air Force, Air Forces Northern. “CAP is working non-stop with local authorities to help the community recover as soon as possible.”

The flights also departed  from bases in Patterson, Gonzales, and Baton Rouge, according to wing officials.

As a Total Force partner and the official U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance. Through the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, First Air Force, Air Forces Northern, is assisting with U.S. Northern Command’s support to the DoD for FEMA requests for assistance. 

The Louisiana Wing operates nine single-engine aircraft, some equipped with special camera and navigation systems for generating precise, high-definition photos. When called into service, these aircraft are flown by a crew of three — a pilot, an observer and a scanner/photographer.  

The collected imagery and its embedded data are immediately processed and converted into both 2D and 3D images for FEMA and GOHSEP emergency managers to use in planning and expediting recovery efforts.

CAP aircraft are also being used to maintain communications networks in Louisiana as well as in surrounding states after the storm.

The Louisiana Wing also operates over 20 mission-ready vehicles that support both transportation and communications needs. They are frequently used to deploy ground teams for search and rescue and damage assessment missions. 

The Louisiana Wing, headquartered in Baton Rouge, has more than 600 members assigned to 16 squadrons scattered throughout the state. 

The mission is under the command of CAP Maj. Tracy Breithaupt of Alexandria, La. “This wing has a long and distinguished history of responding to requests for assistance following disastrous hurricanes like Ida,” Breithaupt said. “We’ll once again apply our unique capabilities in support of post-Ida recovery efforts.”

The flights are expected to continue today and through the weekend and possibly into next week.

- Air Forces Northern contributed to this report. -