Civil Air Patrol’s NRAT Team quickly identifies Idaho plane crash

  • Published
  • By Deb Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing, 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron
  • 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron

Emergency responders were able to quickly locate a small plane crash site deep in the Idaho mountains, thanks to the work of Civil Air Patrol’s volunteer National Radar Analysis Team, Aug. 28.

The plane, a Cessna TU206, single-engine aircraft departed from the McCall airport at 12:30 p.m. with three people onboard. The plane crashed at an elevation of more than 9,500 feet near Mormon Mountain in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

Once the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received reports of an Emergency Locator Transmitter, or 
ELT, activation, they requested the NRAT’s assistance in the crash site search.  

The NRAT analyzed and processed millions of radar targets in raw data, reduced down to hundreds for this track in 15 minutes to determine the aircraft’s radar track.  The team was then able to confirm the ELT hits received by AFRCC and help locate the downed aircraft.

 “We did our best to provide quick accurate location data and from that point, it was very successfully,” said Lt. Col. John Henderson, CAP vice commander of NRAT and 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron member. 

NRAT’s quick response and accurate information saved a lot of search time, resulting in rescue forces being on scene very quickly to allow for rapid medical treatment and transfer to proper medical facilities.

“Through NRAT direct coordination with rotary wing rescue assets, they were able to repel paramedics into the crash site and extricate all passengers” said Henderson.

As the only survivor, the pilot was seriously injured and flown to a Boise hospital for treatment.

Henderson continued, “this is the perfect example of why time is of the essence and our tools and expertise pay off, especially when nightfall is approaching.”

This is the NRAT's eleventh save this year which sets their record for number of annual saves over the past 13 years.

The entire NRAT has volunteered over 400 hours to support search and rescue missions so far this year, and have a deep connection with the 505th Command and Control Wing with five members being past and present 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron personnel.

The 84th RADES at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, reports to the 505th Test and Training Group, which is assigned to the 505th Command and Control Wing; both are headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida.