Aircrew members (from left) Maj. J. Scott Farley, Capt. April Krason, 2nd Lt. Steven Schmidt, Senior Member Steven Heard and Maj. Keith Neilson test a VIRB camera and electronic equipment. All belong to the Thames River Composite Squadron except Krason, a member of the Royal Charter Composite Squadron.
Capt. James Whitesell, Royal Charter Composite Squadron operations officer, demonstrates attachment of a VIRB camera to a CAP plane.
Photos by Lt. Col. Stephen M. Rocketto
Lt. Col. Stephen M. Rocketto
Public Affairs Officer
Thames River Composite Squadron
Fifty aircrew members attended the first VIRB training session Saturday at Hartford-Brainard Airport in preparation for a new mission funded by the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security – an ice patrol that’s an extension of the Connecticut Wing’s summer Long Island Sound Patrol dedicated to boating safety.
The VIRB is basically a controllable camera system that uses wireless technology to transmit the target imagery to a tablet operated by the aircraft observer. It’s mounted on an aircraft wing and points straight down, enabling it to collect imagery directly below the craft.
The primary purpose of the new assignment is to survey and photograph river and coastal icing in Connecticut's navigable waterways. Reports will be made to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and the state DEMHS. Five flights per week are scheduled.
Col. Kenneth Chapman, Connecticut Wing commander, delivered welcoming comments for the training session and credited Lt. Col. Darren Cioffi, wing vice commander for operations, with playing a pivotal role in initiating the mission.
After the aircrew members studied the camera and associated electronics in the classroom, the meeting shifted to the flight line. There, Capt. James Whitesell, operations officer for the Royal Charter Composite Squadron, demonstrated how the camera is attached to the aircraft.
Returning to the classroom, Chapman used a computer presentation prepared by the Royal Charter unit’s Capt. April Krason to describe the equipment, illustrate required documentation and view sample pictures of ice formations on rivers, harbors, lakes and the coast.
At the conclusion of the meeting, five VIRB units were issued to squadrons based at Oxford, Meriden, Hartford and Groton.