Detection team called to inspect airplane

An emergency team based in Greenwood was called in the middle of the night to see if people on a plane were in trouble.

The urban detection team, which is a small squad of officers from the Civil Air Patrol in Greenwood, is sent out to inspect planes that could have crashed. Every plane is equipped with a transmitter signal that is used if a plane is about to crash or the engine stalls, said Civil Air Patrol squad commander Lt. Col. Larry Lopshire.

At 1:45 a.m. Jan. 26, the detection team was called to inspect a plane in Madison. The team has to use a GPS system to find the plane, and then see what damage was done, Lopshire said.

When they are called out, the team does not know anything about the plane other than its coordinates on a map, Lopshire said.

When they found the plane, it was in an airplane hangar in Madison. The airplane had been disassembled and transported by train back to the hangar, Lopshire said. The plane’s transmitter signal was accidentally turned on during travel.

Team members need to pass about 40 tests — ranging from reading a compass to memorizing whistling signals — before they can become certified for the job, Lopshire said.

The team may not be needed for months at a time if a transmitter signal doesn’t go off, Lopshire said.