CAPE MAY - Can a team of trained Coast Guard volunteer radio operators maintain contact with an aircraft flying from the Jersey Shore to Pennsylvania?
The mission for five Coast Guard Auxiliary radio stations, working with the pilot and crew of an Auxiliary aircraft, was to find out.
According to a release, aircraft normally keep tabs with air traffic controllers, but these transmissions are solely for flight instructions. Communications for special missions such as search-and-rescue and unidentified aircraft monitoring must be carried out on Coast Guard radio frequencies.
That’s the job of Coast Guard Auxiliary communications, or AUXCOM, operators.
During a recent regularly scheduled training exercise, “Ops and location” information was exchanged from a Coast Guard Auxiliary single-engine aircraft flying at three thousand feet, on a course from Cape May to Pottstown, Pa., and back down the Jersey shore over Long Beach Island, returning to Cape May.
Stations were able to maintain contact throughout the entire two and a half-hour exercise. According to radio operator Mike Slepian, “to most people, the Coast Guard Auxiliary means free vessel exams, boating courses, and boating safety patrols. They don’t realize the Auxiliary is much more, including radio watch standing and flying more than 150 Auxiliary aircraft.”
Auxiliary pilot Joe Giannattasio is excited about the additional radio coverage provided by Auxiliary communications.
“Our ability to assist the Coast Guard in Search and Rescue and other operations depends on the ability to maintain reliable communications with our ground and sea borne teams. During regularly scheduled aviation patrols, our air crews can cross-train with numerous Auxiliary radio operators, giving us an extra margin of safety,” he stated.