CAP Pilots Direct Coast Guard To Cuban Refugees
Two Civil Air Patrol pilots flying with an experimental digital imaging system made an unexpected discovery off the Florida Keys last month, and used the equipment to help the Coast Guard locate three Cuban refugees. "I looked down and saw what appeared to be a dark gray raft carrying people," said Terry Raymond, one of the CAP crew aboard a Cessna 206. "I grabbed the camera and got the best shots possible." The digital images were transmitted via satellite phone to the Coast Guard within two minutes, and the Coast Guard dispatched a cutter to intercept the raft. "This technology significantly improves CAP's capabilities in reconnaissance as well as search and rescue," said Col. Drew Alexa, who heads CAP's Advanced Technologies Group. "The equipment is far less bulky than our older photography systems. With this new digital imaging system, we need only carry a digital camera, a laptop and the system itself. The whole system weighs only about 12 pounds." CAP hopes to purchase several of the new digital imaging systems to be used across the country. A Coast Guard spokesman said worsening weather approaching the Keys would have endangered the rafters' lives had they not been picked up. The three refugees were uninjured and were repatriated to Cuba.