Thursday, October 30, 2014

Civil Air Patrol to base rebuilt airplane at Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN) in Macon, Georgia

Macon’s newest Civil Air Patrol plane is a bit of a veteran.

The Cessna 172 arrived late Thursday afternoon. It was first built in 1986, but it’s been completely refurbished with modern displays, a new engine and a new interior, said James Marquardt, who said he was among a small crowd gawking at the airplane after it arrived at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in Macon.

“It’s a very awesome little aircraft,” said Marquardt, commander of Middle Georgia Senior Squadron 033. “It’s spectacular.”

The airplane will be based in Macon but is available to help out anywhere. The Civil Air Patrol, a kind of civilian counterpart to the U.S. Air Force, runs search-and-rescue missions for downed flyers, among other kinds of missions. Another Macon-based Cessna 172 has run 217 hours of missions so far this year alone, Marquardt said.

From Macon, the new airplane should be able to reach almost anywhere in the state within about an hour and a half. Another Macon-based Civil Air Patrol plane recently helped in a search-and-rescue mission in Alabama, taking about 40 minutes to reach the border.

“We always hope for the best. We’re always out there trying to find the people. If they’re hurt, we want to get help to them as soon as we can,” he said.

The newest airplane’s old-style round gauges are replaced with a single modern digital display, while another display allows pilots to view a map, weather and other important information, Marquardt said.

Other improvements include rear windows that can be opened, allowing better aerial photos. It can also be set up to retransmit radio signals in the air.

“It’s not going to look like a 1986 airplane. It’s going to look like a 2014 airplane,” Marquardt said. “That’s what’s neat about it.”

The national Civil Air Patrol headquarters paid to refurbish the plane, and the commander of the Georgia Wing decided to station it at Macon.

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