Amateur Radio operators in Western Kentucky assisted the Civil Air Patrol and numerous local agencies in the hunt for a downed small aircraft.
A search for the single-engine plane and its two passengers, missing since June 14th, was conducted by air, ground and water. The recovery effort involved the Coast Guard, both the Calloway County DES and Office of Emergency Management, the Hopkins County Emergency Services Department (Ky.), the Calloway County Fire and Rescue Squad, and many other regional agencies from Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Air Force Auxiliarys Civil Air Patrol was the lead agency for the mission, according to first district emergency coordinator Bill Slayman, KY4NU. The Air Patrol is involved with the great majority of U.S. inland search and rescue operations, and offers air support for pilots nationwide.
Supporting these efforts is what the Amateur service is all about, according to Slayman. We of the Murray State University Amateur Radio Club and Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) always stand ready to provide relay communications for assistance with these endeavors.
The plane in question was last seen leaving Short Creek Field in Dover, Tenn., headed to West Kentucky Airpark, south of Paducah. The predicted flight path included much forested terrain and a few miles over Kentucky Lake.
The Kyle-Oakley Airport in Murray was host to the command post, and staging areas were set up at the Paris Landing Marina, and at the Coast Guard facility near Paris, Tenn.
Led by Kentuckys First District ARES, 22 Ham operators were involved in the mission, donating 506 man-hours of their time. Calloway County Emergency Coordinator Mark Garland (K4SDI), worked with the county emergency manager to facilitate recovery plans. Wreckage was finally identified on June 22nd.
Calloway County OEM extends heartfelt appreciation to members of ARES from Calloway and Hopkins County, Garland said. These unpaid professionals left their families and jobs to bring their equipment and unparalleled expertise. Their support filled a gap which otherwise would have delayed operations and which would have cost in excess of $70,000 had local agencies paid the tab for it.
Hopkins County Amateur Radio Association vice-president and Hazmat coordinator Danny Eizenga (KG4JCL), said that the experience of helping in such a situation is the essence of public service.
We think its wonderful to be able to help with emergency communications, according to KF4SNW, Susan Eizenga, who also noted how Amateurs from different regions efficiently integrated with the effort.