OBSERVATION & REPORTING
Once on station CAP aircraft can loiter in affected areas for extended periods with the observer noting developments on the ground and reporting in real time via a number of techniques. Observation can be of traffic situations, flood development, post storm damage, fires, pollution, etc.
All searches are conducted by trained observers. CAP aircraft are separated during search by time, only one aircraft occupying each allocated time slot. Search is by naked eye from around 800’ above ground with ‘spots’ confirmed by binoculars. This sounds rather basic but it is actually highly effective and does not rely on the serviceability state of complex technology. However, it does require plenty of practise. Geo-referenced high definition photographs are taken of any positively identified targets. All searches are recorded by GPS trace, available to agencies after landing. Searches can comprise saturation aerial photographs that are subsequently analysed on the ground. Some CAP Regions can deploy radio-equipped 4x4 mission support vehicles and ground personnel to liaise and enable better communication between the aircraft and agencies on the ground. Aircraft observers also practise guiding ground searchers by a variety of means. Examples of GPS search traces can be seen in the Gallery section.
AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY & SURVEY
All aerial photography is conducted by the observer. Still aerial images are normally high definition in either JPEG or RAW format. Images may be transmitted directly to the ground in some circumstances and are normally geo-referenced. After landing, image files may be passed to user agencies via the internet or directly on memory cards. Agencies often require tens or even hundreds of images in the form of wildlife, geographical, archaeological or other type of survey. A pre-flight meeting with the agency is normally necessary to discuss exact requirements. Aerial photographs may be overlapping and taken in the best conditions and at the very highest resolution.
Aircraft, particularly when operating in areas of poor phone and/or radio coverage, can provide overhead relay of communications between distant surface groups by using air band, marine band or business radio frequencies.
CAP aircraft can provide a courier service for materials, documentation or people (or seal pups which is a speciality of one of our members) who need to be moved rapidly over significant distances.