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SDWG Commended for B-1 Crash Photo Mission

February 23, 2024

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CAP’s South Dakota Wing B-1B Lancer crash photography mission was “pivotal” and “groundbreaking,” according to the president of the Air Force Safety Investigation board studying the mishap.

The bomber crashed while attempting to land at the airbase on January 4. The crew ejected without serious injuries. The Air Force Interim Safety Board tasked Civil Air Patrol to fly photography surveys around the area of the crash, acting in its role as the auxiliary of the Air Force.

“Your assistance...was not only pivotal, but groundbreaking for mishap analysis,” said Col. Christopher Chandler, president of the safety investigation board in a letter of appreciation. “The tireless support, dedication, and cutting-edge technology was invaluable to the success of our investigation efforts.”

“We used cameras in a small unmanned aerial system (sUAS), or drone, to provide high-quality photos of the mishap area to the Safety Board investigators,” said Col. Mike Beason, the wing’s incident commander for the mission. “From those photos, we provided an overview map of the area to the investigators. We also captured aerial images taken from a handheld camera in a CAP aircraft.”

About 15 CAP members participated in the sorties and served as mission staff.

“Civil Air Patrol’s single-engine aircraft and unmanned aerial system photography drones are ideally suited for this kind of air-to-ground photo survey work,” said CAP Col. Michael Marek, the South Dakota Wing commander. “We’re here to support federal, state and local agencies. One of our squadrons meets on base at Ellsworth and we are happy to make this photography mission part of our auxiliary and active-duty partnership.”

South Dakota Wing has been a leader in CAP’s drone program. It was the first CAP wing to use a small remote-piloted photography drone on an actual search and rescue missing person search mission in September 2019.  That successful search was designated as a “Find” by the Air Force.

Tagged As: Photography Safety sUAS

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