AUXAIR on Ice Patrol: News Support Mission

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pilots Auxiliarist Ron Kaplan (Right) and Lou Volpato (Left) in flight. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

Pilots Auxiliarist Ron Kaplan (Right) and Lou Volpato (Left) in flight. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

By Auxiliarists Ron Kaplan and Lou Volpato

NEW YORK – Coast Guard Auxiliary First District, Southern Region pilots Ron Kaplan and Lou Volpato conducted an ice over flight of New York City and the Hudson River to observe and document shipping channel conditions in support of the 2013-2014 winter icebreaking season, known as Operation Reliable Energy Northeast Winter (RENEW).

Kaplan and Volpato flew in a Piper PA-46 Malibu Mirage with Chiara Sottile, a multimedia journalist with NBC Nightly News; and Petty Officer Second Class Jetta Disco, of Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment New York, to obtain video footage of ice conditions on the Hudson River and to observe first hand the Auxiliary Air (AUXAIR) program’s role in helping the Coast Guard keep vital waterways open to commercial shipping during the winter months.

The Coast Guard relies heavily on the AuxAir flights for providing daily photos and ice reports of these local waterways. The photos and reports help the Coast Guard decide when and where on the river to dispatch their ice breaking cutters, saving valuable time and money. The imagery taken during the over flights is also available online to local shipping companies who move home heating oil and consumer goods.

Auxiliarist Volpato is interviewed by Sottile on Operation RENEW. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

Auxiliarist Volpato is interviewed on Operation RENEW by Sottile. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

“AUXAIR works so well because of the training of our members and close cooperation with the Coast Guard”, said Ron Kaplan, an Aircraft Commander with the Coast Guard Auxiliary First District, Southern Region.

The crew flew past the Statue of Liberty and past the Freedom Tower looking for ice flowing into New York Harbor. Then they headed north on the Hudson River to West Point, a critical choke point where large amounts of ice collect blocking navigable paths for maritime traffic.

Further north on the Hudson, the aircrew observed the Coast Guard Cutter Sturgeon Bay and commercial shipping traffic transiting smoothly along the icy waters near the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

During interviews by both Sottile and Disco, the Auxiliary crew further explained that AuxAir’s winter operations occur seven days a week (weather permitting) from the Shrewsbury and Naversink Rivers in New Jersey to the north including points on the Hudson River to Lake Champlain and the New York/Canadian border.

In addition to the Coast Guard’s Auxiliary Air Division, the NBC news segment “Frigid Winter Freezing Waterways,” also featured Coast Guard cutters from Philadelphia and New York.

From Left to Right: Petty Officer Second Class Jetta Disco, Auxiliarist Ron Kaplan, Auxiliarist Lou Volpato and NBC Journalist Chiara Sottile. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

From Left to Right: Petty Officer Second Class Jetta Disco, Auxiliarist Ron Kaplan, Auxiliarist Lou Volpato and NBC Journalist Chiara Sottile. Photo by Auxiliarist Lou Volpato.

This article was originally published in Division 12 First Southern Region’s Searchlight Magazine – Winter 2014. See the entire electronic version of the magazine at:

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  1. Diane Riggan says:

    I am the Branch Chief Media Relations for Operations and LANTAREA West News – great job AuxAir – we need to make sure the Chief Director’s office is seeing this. Make sure your work is being reported to your District Commander and they are reporting it to HQ. Keep AuxAir in the spotlight. The dedicated men and women in this program quietly go about their work everyday for the Coast Guard. Ice patrols, surveying environmental hazards, search and rescue and interdiction missions in the Caribbean – we just need to grow the program.

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