BROOKINGS, S.D. — Civil Air Patrol’s South Dakota Wing conducted nine flights recently in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s 2021 Field Test and Evaluation radar coverage study in proximity to wind turbines.
The flights allowed CAP to assess whether wind turbine interference limited radar coverage of small aircraft.
CAP conducted multiple flight patterns at varying altitudes in the vicinity of wind farms in South Dakota and Minnesota supporting NORAD’s Homeland Defense mission.
“Civil Air Patrol plays a vital role in all of our mission sets, from training our alert aircraft to natural disaster recovery assistance; they are a valued member of the Continental U.S. NORAD
Region-First Air Force (Air Forces Northern) team,” said Brig. Gen. William Betts, vice commander, 1st Air Force, Air Forces Northern. “With their [South Dakota Wing’s] assistance, NORAD was able to complete field testing ahead of schedule by one week.”
South Dakota Wing performed the radar coverage study in proximity to wind turbine farms for NORAD at the request of CAP’s National Operations Center at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
“We came up with a plan to fly approximately 100 hours in support of the NORAD mission,” said Lt. Col. Craig Goodrich, incident commander for the mission and South Dakota Wing vice commander. “We’re glad could be of service supporting NORAD.”
“We are a go-to resource for local, state, tribal and federal agencies needing aircraft, ground teams and small search drone operational support,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Langrock, South Dakota Wing director of operations. “We’re trained in air-to-ground visual searching, airborne damage assessment photography and ground operations.”
The South Dakota Wing has previously performed COVID-19 vaccination deliveries to rural hospitals, aided in the training of NORAD’s aerospace control alert mission, conducted low-level route surveys for the 114th Fighter Wing and 28th Bomb Wing and supported the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in multiple missing person searches throughout 2021.
From June-August wing aircrews totaled nearly 450 flight hours — more than the wing had flown in years. The flight hours added up to about 974 volunteer hours by the crews, in addition to hours contributed by volunteer command, staff and support personnel.
CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, with responsibilities that are part of the Air Force’s support to civil authorities. CAP has over 400 members in South Dakota, with units in Brookings, Custer, Miller/Faulkton, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea.