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      Houghton Airport says if disaster strikes theyâ??ll be ready

      With Civil Air Patrol in the air and fire and safety crews on the ground, the Houghton County Memorial Airport says if disaster strikes, theyâ??ll be ready.

      That's because nine local fire departments, Mercy EMS and first responders are participating in a mid-air collision simulated safety drill.

      â??Most of these fire departments are basically trained in structural fires, and in an aircraft fire youâ??ve got different situations. You have fuel thatâ??s spread all over the scene, and youâ??ve got to keep that fuel from burning,â?? said Airport Fire Chief Thomas Ryding.

      Most of the planes flying in and out of the airport are 50-seat jets which can carry around 2,000 gallons of fuel.

      With firefighters in place, water is aimed at the blaze until itâ??s safe enough to rescue trapped passengers.

      Airport officials say communication is key, and in this type of situation, practice makes perfect.

      â??Thereâ??s only one way to learn how to do this, and thatâ??s to train and train and train in order to get it right,â?? Ryding said.

      Volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol are also on hand. They're used in tracking planes that crash or are missing outside the airport grounds.

      â??This avionics is called a Becker and it puts out an audible sound and it also has a visual display. As soon as we get airborne, we started picking up the signal and we could see it behind us, so then we start following that, and the next thing you know, we were over the top of it,â?? said Civil Air Patrol pilot Kevin Cadeau.

      Airport officials say theyâ??re pleased with the overall outcome of the drill, and even though this type of accident is unlikely, at least theyâ??ll be prepared.