|Published:||Oct 11, 2013 11:52 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Oct 11, 2013 4:40 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Patrolling the waters from above, it's all a part of a program called the 'Sundown Patrol.' It's made up of pilots and observers who fly over 100 miles of the Lee County coastline looking for boaters who need help.
Inside the airplane usually sits one pilot and two observers ready to hover over the waters that line Southwest Florida, but for this flight WINK News took the co-pilot seat to help patrol the waterways from the air.
"You know you are doing something that could really make a difference in somebody's like if it came to that," said Chief Observer, Earl Leamer.
We went up in the Cessna 172 heading to the coastline looking for unusual activity or help needed on the water.
Sundown Observer Earl Leamer, has kept his eyes on the water for seven years.
"You see the boats pretty good, there is no problem with spotting the boat."
The Sundowners spend every Saturday and Sunday searching just before sunset. They say it's the prime time for boaters to run into trouble as they make their way back to the docks.
"If we do this one time and somebody's life is saved, all the effort that we have made from now and then, is all worth while," said Leamer.
The pilots and observers can receive a radio signal from air, where the ground base can't. They radio the U.S. Coast Guard if someone is in distress.
"One guy was reporting his position and he was reporting it wrong, from the air we were able to determine that's the guy that's in trouble and we were able to give the right coordinates and he got help."
But these flights are fueled by "passion." In order for take off, the group relies on dues, donations and fundraisers to pay for each mission.
"The truth is, most of the time we run our patrol, everyone is ok, we love that, no one's in trouble."
To become an observer with the Sundown Patrol, no aviation experience is needed. Also, on November 9th, from 6 p.m. to 10:30 P.M., they will be hosting their 7th annual Hangar Dance. All of the money raised will go back into the program. For more information visit their website, www.sundownpatrol.org.
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