CAP Radar Team Steals Credit For Rescue Mission

Col Celeste GamacheCAP Col Celeste Gamache, Colorado Wing Commander

By Ray Hayden | CAP Insights

[Editor’s Note: One of your fellow anonymous readers suggested that AuxBeacon cover this confirmed analysis prepared by a contributor to Ray Hayden’s CAP Insights website. We aggregate, but we give credit where credit is due.]

From the Field:

We now have the unmistakable actual “smoking gun” truth that the highly vaunted and self aggrandized “CAP National Radar Analysis Team” or “NRAT,” as well as the CAP I.C in charge of the 7 Jan 2017 Colorado Rescue Mission, lied – and committed an act of “Stolen Valor” – by stating his team should be credited with a “distress find” and “2 Saves”.

How do we know this? Let’s just say we have rock solid indisputable proof of this.

Further, if anyone at NHQ – CAP, or even CAP-USAF thinks this reporting is not 100% accurate, we invite them to publish their facts and prove us wrong. Of course, this will NEVER happen because, as we stated, we have rock solid and independently verifiable proof of this!

Even BEFORE the CAP – National Radar Analysis Team (NRAT) had started to think about using radar forensics to find the crash…the crash was ALREADY FOUND!

An intrepid civilian aviator, Randy Coursolle, was just passing by, found the crash site, was orbiting overhead for quite a long time, and reporting the actual crash coordinates to the FAA and thus AFRCC.

Further, Randy Coursolle was also reporting weather conditions, snow depth, crash survivor numbers and conditions, all WELL BEFORE the NRAT and Incident Commander had a chance to even begin to play the radar forensics game.

AFRCC had all the needed data in hand to affect a rescue totally without any additional (very late and inconsequential indeed) help from the CAP and the NRAT.

In fact, the NRAT used the actual known crash coordinates, as reported by our friendly civilian pilot Randy Coursolle, to “reverse engineer” the track extrapolation by starting to look for tracks that ended at the last know position / crash site for our unlucky Cirrus mishap crew.

The civilian rescue helos were airborne busily ferrying rescuers and survivors to / from the crash site and the hospital about a full 10 minutes before the IC proudly announced that he should have the radar derived crash location figured out in just a few more minutes.

Not surprisingly, the CAP NRAT, using the actual crash site as a starting reference to conduct radar forensics, finally figured out the actual crash site was less than 1 NM away from where the last radar hit occurred.


Is that cause for celebration? Finding the obvious after it had already been found? And announcing the obvious after all the survivors were already rescued?

The real surprise, however, is what happened next. The CAP Incident Commander (I.C.) is claiming a distress find and 2 saves.


The outcome would have been identical if CAP was not even there. In fact, there is not one SINGLE tangible piece of information that CAP provided that enhanced this wholly civilian-run and civilian-led and civilian executed rescue.

Is this what CAP has become…a group of hyper-inflated blow-hards who claim their belated services were instrumental, when – in fact, they were totally meaningless and superfluous.

Are certain CAP members so desperate to “make our stats look good so far this year” that they will stoop to falsifying official government and AFRCC records to “claim” unearned credit for “finds” and “saves” just so they can pat each other on the backs? Wear an extra ribbon at the next CAP conference? Justify budgetary numbers perhaps?

Sad. Distressing. Troubling. Disconcerting. But…not SURPRISING!

This stains and tarnishes all of the really hardworking and dedicated CAP members who believe in our core values of Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect.

Perhaps our National CAP Leadership, or our CAP-USAF actual commissioned Officers, will prevent a travesty in this situation by ensuring that true credit for “distress finds” and “saves” are awarded appropriately and only when actually earned and warranted.

In fact, if our CAP leadership and CAP-USAF Officers really wish to make a huge public affairs splash, they will seek out and provide awards to our civilian pilot Randy Coursolle, who did the real and true heavy lifting on this rescue effort, by finding the crash – and remaining overhead to relay time-critical and mission essential data to the FAA and thus AFRCC and the civilian rescue helos.

We are waiting and watching to see if the right folks step up and truly lead…but none of us is holding their breath.


CAP’s Stolen Valor in Colorado:

From the Field:

The CAP official headline claims:


For the CAP radar team to claim that they “guided searchers to downed plane” and then the “Colo. couple [was] rescued after…” implies several things must have happened PRIOR to civilian medevac helo rescuers picking up the couple and transporting them to the hospital. Did it really happen this way???

Apparently not.

Here are some questions that must be asked with satisfactory answers given BEFORE CAP can make any of the claims they make in their headline.

1. The actual crash evidently happened just prior to 10:24 am. “Around 10:24 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration contacted the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, saying a plane crashed 32 miles east of Meeker.”

2. If the crash happened around 10:24 AM, when did AFRCC become aware of this crash. What time EXACTLY. (Evidently…around Noon time)(That is a full 1 hour and 26 minutes after the crash.)

3. A civilian pilot who happened to be flying in the area at that time, Randy Coursolle, says he was flying from Las Vegas towards Eagle when he heard about the situation over Air Traffic Control. Coursolle says he offered to help locate the aircraft and that “I made a low pass to see if I could see any people. I wanted them to know they had been found,” he explained. “And after I made that low pass, I climbed to an altitude I could talk to air traffic control again and gave them exact position.”

4. It would appear that civilian pilot Randy Coursolle actually “FOUND” the aircraft and considerably before 12 Noon when CAP claims to have been activated.

5. What time exactly did AFRCC notify the Colorado wing. Mission Number? “Apparently this was “at Noon” but that is a pretty wide time window. For CAP to make the claims they do, this notification would have to be proved to have occurred well before pilot Randy Coursolle radioed in the exact coordinates of the crash site to the FAA.

6. What time did the Colorado Wing establish the acting CAP I.C. officially with AFRCC. It must have been past Noon, as AFRCC didn’t notify anyone in Colorado Wing until “Noon” as claimed by CAP. Was this time AFTER civilian pilot Randy Coursolle radioed in the exact coordinates to the FAA?

7. When did the I.C. start the ball rolling with the “Radar Team”? This would have had to occur at some time after “Noon” or there-a-bouts.

8. The I.C., Lt Col Mark Young, states “Only an hour and 47 minutes elapsed between the time the team was notified and the couple was hospitalized.” Since the couple was hospitalized shortly after 1:50 PM when two civilian medevac helicopters picked them up, this gives CAP members very little time to have accomplished anything meaningful.

9. Of course, the actual rescue was performed by two civilian medevac helicopters with no mention of CAP help nor involvement.

10. Again, CAP must be able to PROVE they started analyzing radar track information just after Noon and determined the crash coordinates WELL BEFORE civilian pilot Randy Coursolle radioed in the exact coordinates of the crash site to the FAA.

Can CAP prove this? Will CAP prove this? Or will CAP once again prove themselves to be hyper-inflated blow-hards who claim their belated services were instrumental when in fact they were totally meaningless and superfluous to this wholly civilian-run and civilian-led and civilian executed rescue?

Civil Air Patrol STEALS VALOR???:

Special thanks to those posting on AuxBeacon, which is what made me search this out.

You tell me what is going on here… it looks like the Civil Air Patrol is calling Randy a liar, in stealing the valor for his rescue effort, which is what seems to be what really saved this couple!

NBC 11 News Story by, By Jay Greene, Makenzie O’Keefe | Posted: Sat 1:48 PM, Jan 07, 2017 | Updated: Sat 11:03 PM, Jan 07, 2017.

This is the ONLY credit that CAP gives to the REAL NON-CAP pilot who actually FOUND the aircraft:

“A plane diverted to the radar coordinates spotted the downed Cirrus and the couple outside the plane. The temperature was reported to be 18 below zero, with 2-4 feet of snow on the ground.”

Then, CAP followed up with this:

Lt Col Mark Young, incident commander for the mission as well as a CAP radar team member and assistant director of operations for the Colorado Wing, said the team nailed down the crashed plane’s location within five to 10 minutes. Only an hour and 47 minutes elapsed between the time the team was notified and the time the couple were hospitalized, Young said.

He attributed the mission’s success to effective planning: “We set up a unified command with the county sheriffs, AFRCC and all of the emergency service providers, allowing us to make suggestions and immediately run with them.

“It was an awesome team effort by team Colorado and the National Radar Analysis Team with their quick work,” he said. “NRAT’s Google Earth file showed the radar track and where the airplane went down; it was emailed, so everyone had a copy and could see three-dimensionally the path the aircraft took and what the terrain was like.

“It was of tremendous value to the first responders.”

The radar team has participated in seven missions this year, successfully tracking its target each time.

The unified command set up among all the involved agencies coordinated on a conference call that stayed online for the entire mission.

To me, and you are free to your own opinion, that looks like a lot of theft going on! Nearly complete bullshit.

If there is more to the story, I’d LOVE to hear it, but other than that, NBC 11 seems to have it right, with no mention at all of CAP doing anything!

Plane stops talking, other plane in the air looks, sees it, reports its exact location… no charge! And isn’t THAT the way it’s done?!?

Here is the text version of the story from NBC 11 News, from the link above.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)– The Garfield County and Rio Blacno County sheriff’s offices were investigating a plane crash Saturday afternoon.

By Jay Greene, Makenzie O’Keefe | Posted: Sat 1:48 PM, Jan 07, 2017 | Updated: Sat 11:03 PM, Jan 07, 2017

Around 10:24 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration contacted the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, saying a plane crashed 32 miles east of Meeker.

Around 12:15 p.m., the Garfield County Sheriff’s was contacted to assist with the crash.

“Initial report had two parties in the plane alive and talking with other aircraft in the area,” the Garfield County officials said in a press release.

We spoke to a pilot who says he helped locate the downed plane.

Randy Coursolle says he was flying from Las Vegas towards Eagle when he heard about the situation over Air Traffic Control.

Coursolle says he offered to help locate the aircraft.

“I made a very low pass to see if I could see any people. I wanted them to know they had been found,” he explained. “And after I made that low pass, I climbed to an altitude I could talk to air traffic control again and gave them exact position.”

By 1:50 p.m., officials said a helicopter picked up the people, and no one else was on board.

I don’t see the Civil Air Patrol mentioned ONCE in that story, is the Civil Air Patrol saying that Randy is a liar??? Defamation and stolen valor in one fell swoop??? I would expect nothing less from the Criminal Air Patrol.

Related Stories:
CAP Amateurs Eager to Take Credit
CAP Helps Find Missing Plane in Tennessee Mountains
National Park Service: Three Dead in Smokies Plane Crash
No Survivors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Plane Crash
Sheriff: Colorado Springs Couple Rescued in Garfield Co. Plane Crash

11 Comments on "CAP Radar Team Steals Credit For Rescue Mission"

  1. Can I tell you that NRAT now conducts 95% of all of our SAR missions? I don’t know why the CAP bothers to train and fund ground teams when clearly the fly boys do most of the SAR.

  2. I was reading about another CAP national cell phone team mission in Arizona on cap-spews.

    “The cell phone team’s Col. Brian Ready started the mission and Maj. Justin Ogden finished it.” How does the CAP have start/finish authority over a local, non-Air Force mission?

    Other than what’s on cap-spews, I couldn’t find any professional journalist articles on it anywhere. Is it fiction?

    Civil Air Patrol’s National Cell Phone Forensics Team helped direct searchers early this morning to a 34-year-old mother and her 4-year-old daughter after they became lost while hiking and spent the night outside in north-central Arizona.

    Sgt. Dennis Newman of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office provided the following account:

    Before the woman’s boyfriend had left their camp Friday morning in the Pine-Strawberry area southeast of Flagstaff to go bow-hunting, she told him that while he was out she and her daughter were going to follow some deer tracks they’d seen. When he arrived back at camp at 1 p.m., they hadn’t returned.

    After searching unsuccessfully for the two, the man called for help about 2 p.m. Searchers from the sheriff’s office, including a search dog, were on the scene in 90 minutes. They searched in a 360-degree circle around the camp until sunset.

    In addition, an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter with FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) capability flew over the area until 10 p.m., focusing north of camp – the direction the woman’s boyfriend believed they had gone.

  3. This reminds me of a true story I heard in the Indiana Wing.

    Seems there was a missing plane. The IC established a mission base, and several pilots flew their planes in. There was a long delay getting the briefing organized, and no flights were released.

    One pilot became frustrated, signed off the mission, and took off. On his way home, he decided to fly the intended route of the missing aircraft.

    He found the missing plane, crashed, no survivors.

    He landed and called the mission base. They still had not launched the first plane. The IC got on the phone, and berated him for conducting an “Unauthorized search” and informed him that since he had signed off the mission there was NO WAY he would get a “Find” credit.

    The pilot responded by saying to the IC: “2-B my ass, and have a nice day.” Then he hung up, taking the first step to becoming a “former member.”

  4. I will be interested to see if any of you actually care about how the CAP NRAT actually works. You are clearly only aware of your standard practices. CAP NRAT team actually receives the ALNOT from the FAA and AFRCC. CAP NRAT is actually working the mission before others in CAP is alerted to an actual mission. Also, FYI, our team has two FAA personnel who lives in CO and we were well on this mission as soon as the plane went missing. That is what we do. Based upon our findings, if CAP pilots are needed then it goes to mission. So you can pat whomever you want on the back but we passed the coordinates on to the FAA and AFRCC before the plane was actually found and not only that… before CAP was actually activated to go to mission. When our team was first started we had to wait until CAP went to mission amd we fought this for years and a few years ago that changed. We aren’t activated in sense as you think. As soon as we receive the alnot we are on it before CAP gets activated. Based upon our findings they will activate CAP Rescue. Also, with two FAA personnel on our team we actually are looking for a plane before the alnot comes out. We passed those coordinates well in advance of the plane being found. The FAA alsp passed the coordinates on where to look which is when the missing plane was located. So maybe educate yourself a little bit better before makong assumptions. Just so you don’t look stupid and full of hate in the future.

  5. It is a matter of perspective. NRAT may have never know about Randy and vice versa. Did you ask them?
    On CAP as a whole you are saying that the program is “based completely on lies” that is an Argument By Generalization: drawing a broad conclusion from a small number of perhaps unrepresentative cases. (The cases may be unrepresentative because of Selective Observation.) For example, “They say 1 out of every 5 people is Chinese. How is this possible ? I know hundreds of people, and none of them is Chinese.” So, by generalization, there aren’t any Chinese anywhere. This is connected to the Fallacy Of The General Rule.

    Have you researched all of CAP’s finds for 2016/17? Have you spoken to the cadets that made it to the AFA because they got their start in CAP?
    All are welcome at our meetings so contact us or your local squadron. We are always open to constructive criticism, that is how we build a better program.

  6. What is a civilian medevac helicopter? In this instance What organization responded to the scene with a helicopter?
    Do you have contact information for Randy Coursolle? We would like to honor him at our Squadron if he is available. We at the new Eagle County Squadron C.A.P. don’t care what happened first but that two people were saved.

  7. Aux Beacon,

    Check your email. We sent you documents of Gamache having a feud with members in the Colorado Wing when she became Wing Queen. Several voiced out against her abusive ways. As a result, they got terminated, punished and condemned. She needs to be exposed since she will do anything, including hurting good members as she continues to suck up to the brass to advance.

    • Col. Gamache Served honorably in the Air Force for 20+ years and brings with her that experience. She has a firm leadership stile and that is not for everyone. However it is a benefit to units and individuals that are not in compliance to the regs. I am sure that this site in particular would like to post a picture of a senior member like myself that is overweight and has a beard wearing an AF stile uniform. I can envision the anonymous cowards berating the entire CAP because of the poor judgment of one person. In contrast to that COl Gamache would counsel that person and advise them that they should wear the Corporate uniform. The pendulum may swing the other way with our next commander. With the former military types in the wing complaining that, she or he, is to soft on reg enforcement or what ever complaint your Emailed documents included. If you are members or parents I encourage you to work internally to resolve disputes so we can all better the program.

  8. Avatar Isaac Parker | January 17, 2017 at 18:20 | Reply

    I was read in on this CAP RAT story today by a friend because of my work in SAR.

    While the language is very “energetic”, Hayden and his field source have nailed this conviction of Civil Air Patrol. You should know that this is not the first time they have done something like this. Look for more examples in the past.

    As a result of the crony coverup culture in CAP that falsifies reports to the Air Force and to the media, I have seen a steady exit of the most highly qualified and giving aviation, education and emergency services professionals. Our cadets are now in the hands of very low, self-serving bullies and fraudsters able to rise to the very top of the program.

  9. This story is from the field, I edited and posted it… Other than the section by me… Of course.

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