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Civil Air Patrol Offers Expertise In Search For Missing Malaysian Plane

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The group called to help locate the plane is a radar forensics team, which is a very small subset of the Civil Air Patrol. The group called to help locate the plane is a radar forensics team, which is a very small subset of the Civil Air Patrol.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

As the search for the Malaysian aircraft continues, The U.S. Civil Air Patrol is now joining in the effort, using their expertise to help track down the missing plane.

The group called to help locate the plane is a radar forensics team, which is a very small subset of the Civil Air Patrol.

Their goal is to narrow down the search area from thousands of square miles to a couple of hundred.

"One of our core missions of search and rescue is finding airplanes that are in distress or have gone down," said Major James Beauchamp of the Oklahoma wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

"We've been asked to assist with radar forensics, so we have a tag team, a tiger team of about 10 individuals who come together who are experts in the field of radar forensics."

3/16/2014 Related Story: Focus Shifts To Flight Crew Amid New Plane Revelations

It's a mission like any other for the Civil Air Patrol. But this time, the stakes are higher and the search is much wider. Beauchamp has served in the Civil Air Patrol for 25 years, among more than 61,000 other volunteers across the nation. Beauchamp isn't a part of the specialized team helping to locate Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. but he knows how the air patrol will search.

"The forensic team will get all of this data together coming from different sensors and they'll put it together and process it based upon on how good the data is," he said.

"All of these radars are providing all of these streams of data for thousands of airplanes all over the world, so it's going to take some time and some true grit to pull out the data that you need."

He says the team will try to pinpoint the plane based on a reflection of the metal a radar will pick up. They'll use custom-built software to provides the position, the velocity, and direction of travel of a radar track.

"The analysis will look at different data streams and they'll make a judgment on what data stream is better than the other, so they'll mathematically put it together inside a computer program to provide a best guess of where the plane is," Beauchamp said.

"With the Moore tornadoes, we worked pretty much 24/7 until we pretty much couldn't work anymore, so I can guarantee that they're working diligently with the data they're given."

Beauchamp says in the years he's been with the Air Patrol, it has taken specialists anywhere from few a days to a few weeks to track down a plane.

The Civil air patrol's team will be analyzing data from bases throughout the U.S.

If you'd like to volunteer with the air patrol's Oklahoma Wing click here.

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