MINDEN - After a year and a half, the Douglas Composite Civil Air Patrol has completed all of its training to become a base.
Nine squadrons from California and Nevada gathered in Minden to conduct a mock search so the Douglas unit could be base capable. With the completion of Saturday's activities, a major search can be launched from the Minden-Tahoe Airport.
A month ago, the Douglas Composite Civil Air Patrol conducted its first search as a squadron, Ellen Rosenberg, public information officer. On Saturday, the search was first ever that all the ground crews were also certified.
"What this means is that we can now operate as a base," said Deputy Commander Dennis Rosenberg. "We have all the trained people to coordinate a search from the ground in the air."
The search teams Saturday were given three grids where actual downed aircraft had been reported previously. The teams were given two hours to search the area, and report if they found the old wreckage.
Cpt. John Martin said that the practice drills helps the unit learn where its weaknesses and strengths are.
For the first time, Wayne Springmeyer worked as the mission coordinator for the squadron. Previous training was conducted under the coordination of an Air Force mission coordinator.
There were seven squadrons: Feather River, Reno, South Lake, Yerington, Douglas, Elko and the Nevada Wing. There were nine planes with 43 pilots and observers working and five cadets participating.
This kind of training with Civil Air Patrol members helped with the successful location of a downed aircraft on Sept. 4 which involved a California woman, Rosenberg said.
Pilots and observers started gathering at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with a briefing at 8:30, and were in the air by 9 a.m.
Flying out of the Minden-Tahoe Airport, the pilots took observers on simulated grid searches over the Douglas and Alpine counties area.
"What (a base) does for us is allows us to be closer to the Sierra, where a lot of the calls for searches occur," Rosenberg said. "It saves us time too, because we would have to fly from Yerington previously."
The squadron began after a conflict erupted in Carson City, where the airport was seeking compensation for land being used by the Civil Air Patrol.
Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer oriented organization. Residents participating in the searches spend their own time and money and use their own equipment.