Tahoe Truckee Civil Air Patrol celebrates 80 years with practice rescue


Civil Air Patrol units from three counties, along with Nevada County Sheriff Department Search and Rescue Canine Trailing Team, joined on the 80th anniversary of the National Civil Air Patrol to “save” victims of an airplane crash to polish their skills and renew their certifications. In total, this exercise involved over four dozen volunteers in five counties.

The exercise simulated an airplane crash in a mountainous area near Stampede Reservoir. A simulated crash signal reported from the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was passed to the Nevada Civil Air Patrol Wing Incident Commander who dispatched flight teams from Truckee, Reno and Minden to search for the emergency locator, a transmitter signal from the “crashed” airplane using airborne signal direction finders. On identifying the signal, the teams conducted a visual search and relayed the crash coordinates to the Reno Civil Air Patrol Incident HQ staff. The Incident Command Center coordinated the four three-person crews to avoid traffic conflicts.

The incident command staff then ordered a ground rescue team of several adult and ten Civil Air Patrol cadets to hike into the crash site. There they found the injured pilot. Five other survivors had wandered away from the crash scene. The cadets on the ground called the IC Base for help from canine tracking teams. Five teams consisting of Nevada Sheriff Search and Rescue Canine Trailers and their handler, and a cadet then searched for the stragglers while another group secured the accident site and tended to the pilot.

This Search and Rescue Exercise allowed several Civil Air Patrol members to add new qualifications and others to update qualifications. This training exercise provided an excellent opportunity for the Nevada County Sheriff Search and Rescue canine trailing teams and the Civil Air Patrol to practice search and communication skills as well as teamwork. It provided very realistic conditions and challenges for the individual canine teams. This exercise could not have been possible without the assistance of our citizen volunteers, residents of Truckee and Lincoln, who participated in the exercise as the passengers of the simulated aircraft accident. These folks laid out the trails and remained in place for several hours while each of the canine search teams practiced locating them.

Through the combined effort of the base planning teams, the air crews from Truckee, Reno and Minden, the Civil Air Patrol ground teams, and Nevada County Sheriff’s Canine teams were able to rescue all survivors. This was the first time that Civil Air Patrol and Nevada County Sheriff had worked together. Communications and coordination were smooth as both groups follow Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) protocols.

The overall exercise required participation of 14 Incident Command Staff, 12 Ground Team, 12 Flight Crew Members, six Canines and Handlers from Nevada County Sheriffs Canine Trailing Teams, 6 Crash Victims and six Logistics personnel.

Civil Air Patrol provides Emergency Services throughout the country. In addition to searching for downed aircraft and lost hikers, Civil Air Patrol assists in other disasters from COVID to hurricanes using both ground and air resources.

The Nevada Sheriff’s canine volunteer team provides search and rescue tracking with highly trained dogs.

For more information or to join Civil Air Patrol, contact Captain Dan Beadle, Tahoe Truckee Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron at or 775-544-6161

Captain Dan Beadle is with thenCivil Air Patrol Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron

Ground team Cadets and Nevada County Volunteer Search and Rescue Canine Trailers using UDF direction finder to locate the aircraft.
Provided photo
Some of the crash site rescue crew and “survivors” after the successful search.
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All missions start with briefing covering assignments, resources and safety.
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At the After Action Review and with some needed fuel.
Provided photo


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