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REDCAP - TX-391 Scores a “Two-Fer”

posted Oct 1, 2011, 10:40 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Nov 11, 2011, 9:24 AM by J Scott Carter ]
CAP 391st Composite Squadron scored  a “Two-Fer” early Monday morning September 19th.  

Sunday September 18th when the DFW Control Center received several reports of an ELT (emergency locater  transmitter) signal  being received  by passing commercial aircraft near Bonham , Texas, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC)  deployed the 391st Composite Squadron to assist.

Squadron commander, Captain Ian Jaeger, was tasked with assembling a flight aircrew to conduct the search.  Captain Jaeger successfully pulled together a flight aircrew in less than 1 hour, to begin the search; not an easy task when you are asking aircrew members to leave a comfortable Sunday evening for a night of flying in marginal weather.  Yet, Lieutenants Wes Schlenker and Bob Bruton volunteered to serve as Observer and Scanner respectively.

After a long delay waiting for thunderstorms to pass through the area, the mission was finally launched.  Shortly after 11pm CDT, the crew proceeded to the area of Bonham , Texas and began orbiting the area in search of the elusive ELT signal.  After orbiting for sometime, the mission turned south toward Lake Whitney State Park to continue the search.  As the aircraft neared Hillsboro, TX, the Becker directional finding equipment indicated a strong signal in the direction of the Hillsboro municipal airport.  After an orbit of the Hillsboro airport, the crew spotted a wrecked Beechcraft King Air just east of the main runway.  In further discussion with Fort Worth Center, the crew were advised that the plane may have crashed the day before and was probably the source of the ELT signal.

After landing, the air crew met up with Hill County Sheriff Deputy, Mark Norris, who was dispatched to assist with the search of the aircraft.   Proceeding across an extremely muddy and  drought induced gap filled infield encountering gaping open splits  in the earth as  wide as forty inches more than ten inches deep and with only flashlights to guide them,  the crew finally reached the ground looped aircraft.  

At first the transmitter could not be located but using knowledge gained as a jet aircraft mechanic in the U.S.  Air Force 1st Lieutenant Bob Bruton was able to locate the access panel.  After opening the panel, 1st Lieutenant Wes Schlenker was able to locate and silence the ELT.

Then the fun began….trying to remove Central Texas Mud Gumbo from their boots.  After unloading several pounds of mud, the boots still remained too dirty to wear aboard the aircraft for the return flight to Dallas Love Field.  Thanks to Deputy Norris providing paper “evidence bags”, the crew was able to stow their boots in the aircraft luggage compartment and fly barefooted back to Dallas.

But the night wasn’t over!  As the aircrew departed Hillsboro the Becker receiver picked up a NEW signal in the direction of Lancaster municipal airport.  Upon landing at Lancaster the crew taxied up and down the taxiway until they were able to pinpoint the exact location of the ELT.   Unable to gain access to the ELT location, the crew requested a ground search to turn off the errant ELT later that day.  

After departing Lancaster and making a necessary refueling stop at Dallas Executive airport the air portion of the mission finally closed out at 06:15 local time.  

In this case the “MudBirds”, ended a long and satisfying mission that yielded a “TWO-FER” which means all crew members became eligible to receive “Find” ribbons with a propeller device signifying two “Finds”
For more information contact :  1st Lt Robert R. Bruton
                                                     Public Affairs Officer
                                                     391st Composite Squadron
                                                     Dallas, TX
                                                     @817 685 9658 or