Before the waves from an 9.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan reached Hawaii shores, eight Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cessnas launched for a nighttime mission March 10 to warn people along the islands’ coastline.
The aircraft began blasting tsunami warning sirens and voice warnings from a fuselage-mounted speaker system at 10:18 p.m. Hawaii time as they looked for people on or near the shoreline, the CAP announced. Waves from the tsunami reached the islands nearly five hours later, at about 3 a.m. local time.
“It is a bit unusual for us,” said Capt. Anthony M. Ferrara, the incident commander for the CAP mission, in a press release. “We don’t usually do nighttime ops but because the tsunami was due to hit early this morning, our pilots made sure Hawaii’s citizens were notified so they could safely move out of harm’s way.”
The CAP Hawaii Wing flew the routes with full crews, several of whom launched multiple flights, the CAP said. The aircraft were on the ground by 5 a.m. Hawaii time, “standing by for possible damage assessment flights after daybreak.”
The California Wing of the CAP also was placed on tsunami alert March 10, and was activated for possible disaster relief flights the following morning.