Aircrafts fill Idaho skies to prepare for disaster

Aircrafts fill Idaho skies to prepare for disaster

NAMPA, Idaho (KBOI) - Civil Air Patrol crews are there when there's a homeland security crisis, a national disaster or a search for missing people. This weekend Air Force leaders from across the country are testing Idaho's crews to see how well they can handle a search and rescue mission.

Civil Air Patrol crews from Mountain Home, Boise, Idaho Falls, Burley and even out of state crews from Montana and Utah gather in Nampa to take clues from air force leaders to try and locate a downed small plane.

"I suppose it is a bit different in the fact that we know nobody's there, nobody's hurt, nobody's missing, no families are worried," said Ted Thompson, a mission pilot, but he adds, "Everything else is exactly the same."

Crews are told where a missing pilot left from and where he was going. And from there, they have to get an action plan in place.

"Sometimes there's just a lot of flying before the missing individuals are located and it takes a lot of people to make that all come together," said Mike Vorachek, Commander of Idaho's Civil Air Patrol.

Air Force leaders give the crews extra clues periodically, much like they would get in an actual search and rescue mission.

"They can give us clues that will send us closer or clues that will send us further away," Vorachek said, "They have a pretty large playbook that they use to put us through our paces."

Vorachek says this scenario is extremely helpful because it gets teams working together statewide, just as they would in a large scale emergency.

"Any time you get to train and practice exactly how you intend to conduct a real operation, that's invaluable," Vorachek said.

At the end of the weekend, the Air Force will evaluate Idaho's Civil Air Patrol crews to make sure they meet their performance mark.

Vorachek says he has no doubt that Idaho's teams will score well.

"I think we're doing pretty successful," he said, "I know we've got a great team, and I think we're doing well."

There are 450 Civil Air Patrol volunteers in Idaho. This evaluation only comes around every two years.