Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wreaths Across America - 2011

1st Lt Louie Rivas
Assistant Public Affairs Officer and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

SAN BRUNO, CA - On a clear Sunday morning in December, at national cemeteries in all 50 states, a grateful nation paid homage to its fallen heroes by laying a Christmas wreath on their tombstone. Various veterans groups, local residents, families and Civil Air Patrol Squadrons took part in the Wreaths Across America campaign whose mission is to Remember, Honor and Teach.

Members of Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188, East Bay Cadet Squadron 18 and an estimated crowd of 200 gathered in the center of the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno California to hear local dignitaries, family members and veterans give thanks to those who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces.

The ceremony began with a musical prelude by a lone bagpiper calling the gathering to order and setting the tone for the morning’s events.  The flags of each branch of the armed services, merchant marines, and Blue Star Moms served as a back drop to the podium. There was a moment of silence, followed by the Presentation of Colors by cadets of Squadron 18. The Silicon Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution served as Honor Guard, and Chaplain Colonel Leo McArdle led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Several people in attendance joined local resident Maria Quiarte in singing the National Anthem. This was followed by the Invocation, recognition of dignitaries and opening remarks. Representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marines and Blue Star Moms were each presented with a wreath which they hung at the base of the flag representing their respective branch of service or organization.

A Blue Star Mom and Navy veteran addressed the crowd and spoke of what it was like to send her only child off to war.  With tears in her eyes, she shared her story of spending holidays alone, fearful she might not share another with her brave warrior.

A three-volley rifle salute by cadet and senior members of Squadron 188, Squadron 18 and Group 2, followed by a soulful duet of Taps closed the ceremony.

The group of spectators and participants moved towards section 2C of the cemetery where several hundred wreaths were waiting.  Colonel McArdle gently laid the first wreath against the tombstone of Admiral Chester Nimitz.  Members of the crowd collected wreaths and respectfully walked among the tombstones and laid them against a tombstone and in their own way, gave thanks to a hero they likely never knew.

Event Multimedia
• Pictures of the event are located here.

- Images courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau and 2d Lt Mark Vikse

Monday, December 5, 2011

Glider O-rides at Byron Airport

Reprinted on CAP's National Site - Volunteer Now - 12/28/2011.

Capt Noel Luneau
Deputy Commander and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

C/CMSgt Ashley Miles ready for her flight
BYRON, CA - On Sunday, December 4’th, Cadets and Senior members from Squadrons 18 and 188 flew in gliders at Byron Airport.  This is a brand new Nevada Wing Glider Center of Excellence (COE) mission outreach program to provide Glider Orientation rides (O-rides) for Northern California cadets.  While Southern California has an active CAP Glider COE, Northern California has not had glider O-rides reasonably available to its cadets in many years.  Major Semans of the Nevada Wing Glider COE, has intermittently worked for the past three years to get a new CAP glider operational center established in the North.  We are very grateful for all of his work in the accomplishment of this important milestone.
Grob 103 getting ready for take-off

Taking advantage of the relationship established between CAP and the Soaring Society of America (SSA) more than a decade ago, Sunday’s Glider rides were flown using gliders from the non-profit club Northern California Soaring Association (NCSA).  The club is located at Byron Airport, 15 mi North-West of Tracy, and is an ideal airfield to conduct O-Rides for NorCal cadets due to its proximity and central location to the major population centers of Groups 2 and 5.  Specifically, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and the Central Valley.  NCSA has three 2-Seat Grob 103 sailplanes and uses a Bellanca Scout as the tow aircraft.  The tow aircraft pulls the engine-less glider up to 3,000 feet, where the glider releases and its occupants enjoy a 15 to 30 minute flight.
Grob 103 Cockpit

Gliders are heavier-than-air aircraft that generally do not have engines (some do but are purpose built for advanced soaring) and consequently must be pulled into the air by either a powered aircraft (tow plane), stationary winch, or pulled by a car (auto tow).  Once released, skilled glider pilots may use rising air currents to climb and either extend the flight time or fly cross-country.  Flying by the use of these air currents is called soaring and pilots will often call their craft sailplanes.

Rising air currents can be formed by solar heating called thermal Lift, air rising over a ridge or slope called ridge lift, or air rising after flowing over a mountain called Mountain Wave.  Thermal lift is generally the strongest during the summer months when the sun is higher in the sky.  Thermals are invisible bubbles of warm, rising air that form into columns, and are more easily formed when there is a trigger event, such as moderate wind.  At Byron, the best conditions for catching strong thermals are generally in the Fall and Spring.  Then skilled NCSA pilots can extend flight times to hours and cross-country flights to hundreds of miles.  During the winter, mountain wave forms on the downwind  side of Mount Diablo and can lift NCSA pilots over 14,000 feet.  More information about soaring can be found on the Soaring Society of America’s web site.
C/AB Novaes and Maj Bob Semans the O-ride pilot

For glider O-rides, the flights are generally shorter due to the need to fly multiple cadets in one day.  On Sunday, two cadets and three seniors received O-rides from our excellent O-ride pilot, Major Bob Semans.  Each of the flights lasted about 20 to 25 minutes and was flown in mostly smooth and stable air, as the day was cool, with calm winds, and low solar heating.

Receiving flights on Sunday, were C/CMSgt  Ashley Miles, C/AB Marc Novaes, Capt Doug Crawford, SQ18 Deputy Commander (CD); 1st Lt John Miles, SQ18; and Capt Noel Luneau, SQ188 CD.  Also in attendance was Capt  Paul Kubiak, SQ44 CD.  There were many smiles from the passengers as the conditions were great for gliding in clear and smooth air.

C/CMSgt  Ashley Miles, commented that "My first glider ride was not what I was expecting. I always thought that powered flight was where all the excitement was and I was completely wrong. It felt like you had to be more in tune with the glider than you are with a Powered Aircraft, and thats where half the excitement is. I learned many things from this amazing opportunity. And I hope that cadets from around the wing will take the opportunity of o-rides and utilize them to its full potential."

Glider O-rides are a fun, informative, and very cost effective way to introduce cadets to aviation.  We look forward to many more NorCal cadets receiving O-rides at Byron.

Event Multimedia
• Pictures of the O-ride day are located here.
• Videos from one of the O-rides are below or on YouTube in stunning 1080p HD here.

Grob 103 take-off at Byron
Grob 103 landing at Byron

Civil Air Patrol Glider Orientation Rides by Maj Mark Fridell

Capt Luneau is Squadron 188's Deputy Commander and is a qualified Mission Pilot

Images and video courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau and Capt Doug Crawford

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day - 2011

Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2011, our Nation will pause to honor America’s Veterans and celebrate their contributions to our way of life. Few have given more to our Nation than the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces in peace and in war.  At 11:00 am, 93 years have passed since the armistice that ended World War I, and the unforgotten horridness of 39 Million Allied and Central Powers soldiers KIA, WIA, and MIA.

Since WWI, generation after generation of Americans—from Bunker Hill and Bennington to Baghdad and Abbottabad—protected, defended, and preserved the principles and ideals that define our democracy. Across that remarkable sweep of history, today’s America was shaped at Lexington and Concord, Antietam and Gettysburg, in the skies over Midway, on the beaches of Normandy, in winter’s grip at Chosin Reservoir, in the heat of Ia Drang Valley, from the Persian Gulf into Afghanistan and Iraq by those who wore our Nation’s uniforms. Over twenty-two million living Veterans today embody our exceptional character and values as a people—each a line in our Nation’s history, but together many chapters towards today’s future.

As we honor and celebrate the contributions of all of our Nation’s Veterans, we take special pride in those Veterans in Squadron 188 and the Civil Air Patrol who have served in our Armed Forces and CAP during times of peace and times of war.

Thank you to our own Veterans:

Col George E Dijeau, CAP
Capt Demetrius B Wren, USAF
1st Lt David Dunham, USN
1st Lt Pat Bitz, USA
1st Lt Doug Perreira, USAF
2d Lt Rex Beach, USN

God bless our Veterans. And may God continue to bless this great country of ours.

Capt Luneau is Squadron 188's Deputy Commander and is a qualified Mission Pilot.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An afternoon with the Astronauts

1st Lt Louie Rivas
Assistant Public Affairs Officer and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - San Francisco Fleet Week, the annual event celebrating the sea services is a very popular event in the Bay Area. It’s a weeklong event held on the marina green and wharfs along the bay and consists among other things, air shows by the Blue Angels, the Royal Canadian Airforce Snowbirds, and various aerobatic pilots.

I typically visit Fleet Week as a spectator but this year I participated as a volunteer for The W Foundation. I along with fellow members Lt Doug Perreira, Lt Mike Allen of Squadron 188 and cadets from Squadron 23 of Novato CA volunteered to help out the W Foundation with crowd control at their display booth.

The W Foundation (TWF) was founded in December 2002, by Ken Winans and his wife Debbie Wreyford-Winans as a volunteer staffed & privately funded California non-profit corporation for space education (The “W” is for Winans and Wreyford.) The Winans have been able to amass one of the largest private collections of U.S., Russian and Soviet space exploration artifacts in existence.

The W Foundation set up a booth on the marina green to display their collection of space artifacts. The display includes a mock up of a space helmet, Russian space suit, gloves, meteorite, explosive bolt and the insulating tile used on the space shuttle.

The helmet was fun to try on, it’s big round and it echoed when I talked. I felt like a fish in a fishbowl. The space tile was really cool, no really. A volunteer heated up one side of the tile with a torch, and allowed those who were brave enough to touch the opposite side of the tile which was surprisingly cool. Did you know the space shuttle is held in place by eight 110 lbs bolts? These bolts keep the space shuttle on the ground while the engines are starting up. Once the engines are stabilized the nuts of the bolts explode and allow the space shuttle to lift off the ground. Who knew? This year’s display also had four very special guests, and each of them is an astronaut.

The astronauts represented the early days of the space program, Gemini, Apollo, and the era of the space shuttle.

Astronaut Dick Gordon flew Gemini XI, and orbited the earth 44 days over a three day period. He also piloted the Apollo 12 command module while his crewmates walked on the moon.

Astronaut Richard Searfoss piloted two Space Shuttle missions, STS-58 and STS-76, and was the mission commander on his third space flight, STS-90. In 1996, during STS 76, he piloted Atlantis to the Russian space station Mir where the crew performed the third docking with Mir.

Astronaut Danny Bursch is a veteran of four space flights and has logged over 227 days in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-51, STS-68, and STS-77, and served as flight engineer on ISS Expedition-Four (2001-2002). Dan Bursch and fellow astronaut Carl Walz currently hold the U.S. space flight endurance record of 196 days in space.

The last astronaut, John Harrington, flew on STS-113 logging over 330 hours in space, including 3 EVAs (space walks) totaling 19 hours and 55 minutes.

These heroes were on hand to support TWF, promote space exploration and pose for the obligatory photographs. Each of them was happy to answer the same questions over and over again and share their very unique experiences into space. For example, I asked Astronaut Bursch what it was like to spend 6 months on space station Mir. He said, the most difficult part was not having a place to hide after having a bad day at the office. I also asked astronaut Searfoss what it was like on takeoff. He said you couldn’t really hear the noise but he could certainly feel the pressure of the thrust on his chest.

All in all it appeared to me they enjoyed themselves supporting TWF, mingling with the crowd and spending a fine day on the green.

Editor note: Visit the website for The W Foundation or perform a Google search for more information about the astronauts.

Images courtesy of 1st Lt Louie Rivas

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Number of Firsts

Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez
Communications Officer and Mission Scanner
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

OAKLAND, CA - I started off Sunday, Sept 4 having already attended the Group5 SAREX in Sacramento with 1st Lt Doug Perreira the day before. Capt Frank Riebli, 1st Lt Patrick Bitz and I were planning to fly a training and technology development mission out in the Central Valley. Little did I know we would end up spending more than twice the amount of time aloft than we expected. Instead of working on a number of technology and training firsts for our aircrew, we ended up achieving some operational firsts as a team. We started our flight by departing Oakland Metropolitan Airport after waiting for the fog to leave the runway before we did. At around 1:40 PM when we were wheels up and the fog was rolling back out to the sea lending us clear skies.

Our target was a valuable piece of infrastructure that was a sensitive location. It was a prominent enough landmark in the Central Valley as to make it a good target for new photographic equipment, as two new techniques were tried today, Long Range Oblique Photography, or LOROP, and In Eye Projection. Using techniques gleaned from Astrophotographers, long range photographs were produced using less than $300 worth of equipment. With a high maximum magnification, detail can be obtained from a distance and at altitude, especially useful in mountain flying or a hazardous environments. With the photography completed, I contacted 1st Lt Luis Rivas using a reprogrammable data modem to test data transfer. Unfortunately, right at the moment I established a connection with Luis, we got a call from 1st Lt Mike Allen over the repeater.

Some days you are in the right place, at the right time ,with the right crew, and about an hour into our flight, that moment came for us. Lt Allen came in on the CAP radio net and informed us that an ELT was being detected, "somewhere along the western coast of the whole United States" to quote him in debriefing. The general area we were directed to was northof the Delta, West of Sacramento Executive Airport where Lt Allen was workingon the Group 5 SAREX. An aircraft with inoperable DF gear had flown around that area, and using wing nulls, gave fixes that hit every corner of the compass rose, which meant our functional plane with a ready aircrew was sent north to hunt down an ELT. Flying north from Crows landing, I noticed we passed over the region of the Delta where the salt water mixes with the fresh water from the Sacramento river; the sunlight illuminated it in a stunning manner as I took a picture. We landed to feed the ever-thirsty CAP aircraft at Yolo County Airport.

After fueling and watering, we took-off and began our direction finding work by flying North with the DF gear sensitivity set to the maximum. We didn't pick anything up before landing at Yolo County, and we didn't pick anything up until about 15 minutes after we left that area. All of sudden we picked up a fuzzy buzzing. A couple of miles further North and that buzzing becomes clearer, another mile, and the buzz becomes a choppy warble of that familiar tune, an ELT. Homing in on 121.5, we started picking up a much clearer signal. Capt Riebli and Lt Bitz agreed that we should maneuver around to get a good fix. Sitting in the back, I noticed an airport about seven miles distant off the front left hand side. Capt Riebli began to maneuver the aircraft, and while he was looking around the six-pack, I was watching that DF needle. Turning to the left and heading North, the airport distantly in front of us slowly panned across my view moving to the right; at the exact same time, from my point of view, about 8 inches below my vision of the airport, was a little needle pointing dead straight at that airport as it slid from left to right, forever cementing my belief in having good DF gear. With a big grin on my face I pointed to it and exclaimed "aha!" much alike a pirate founding treasure; I was sure the ELT was hiding somewhere on this distant little airstrip.

After some maneuvering and discussion amongst the crew, we informed Sacramento base of our find and fixes. After obtaining clearance to land at what we had come to discover was Colusa County Airport, I prepared the back seat for landing, but not before noticing some majestic mounts off to the East, called the Buttes, a prominent uprising in the otherwise flat central valley. Landing at Colusa, we took in the strong late summer sun as we walked from the CAP aircraft to some of the parked aircraft on the ramp. Making a mental note to put some sunscreen in the survival vest for the next mission, we commenced our search, with Capt Riebli and I carrying portable radios, detuning and bringing the unit close to the skin of the few aircraft on the ramp. Having no success determining what was giving us such a strong signal, we checked all the parked cars, hangers, and then noticed something. While the cars near the hanger didn't check out with the no-antenna test, a hanger about 20 feet from them was giving some fairly strong readings. Walking around the suspect hanger, Capt Riebli stood in between the hanger and the highway, while I walked around another hanger, carefully noting that when I allowed the other hanger to occlude line of sight to the suspect hanger on a detuned frequency, the ELT vanished from my little Icoms speaker. As I trundled across this weedy and seemingly innocuous little airstrip back to Capt Riebli, he had observed something convincing. With his back to the suspect hanger and radio in front of his body, effectively body blocking the signal from the hanger, the trucks from the highway in front of him were reflecting the otherwise blocked signal as they drove by, causing little warbling blips as they passed.

At this point the three of us where convinced enough to call in this little blue hanger to Lt Allen, and then the local sheriff. About 15 minutes later, a squadcar comes up, followed by another. The two sheriffs go up to the suspect hanger and knock, and then open a suspiciously unlocked door, with their hands perched alarmingly on theirholsters; clearly, these officers were wary of unusual circumstances in this area. After an interminable 10 minutes, and two more squad cars arriving, we were beckoned inside. This large hanger had acouple of RV's, a boat, and, surprise surprise, a Cessna sitting with the cowling off, doors open, and undergoing extensive restoration. With even the baggage door visibly open from standing at the door of the hanger, I had myradio at 122.220, and with almost no signal outside, the second, I put my arm holding the radio inside the building it went to maximum signal strength. After securing the ELT, which apparently had developed a faulty Arming switch, we readied the CAP aircraft for the trip home.

As we hauled the old bird South to get home before sunset, we hooked back around over Concord, then took a path that would allow us to beat the fog crossing the bay attempting to smother the Oakland airfield. As we were slipping inbefore the weather and sunset ended another day of successful flying, I managed to snap some interesting shots of the setting sun across a sea of fog stretching over San Francisco and the ocean.
After an uneventful approach and landing, we high fived each other for everyone's first mission as an aircrew, everyone's first find, everyone's first time working together, Capt Riebli's first mission as mission pilot, Lt Bitz’s first mission observer flight, and my first mission scanner mission. We had a pretty good day, things went smoothly, and there were only a few constructive takeaways from Sunday:
  1. Put Sunscreen in the survival vest
  2. Always fly with a pair of sticks and an Lper
  3. Plan for something that you didn't plan for, happening; take double the batteries
  4. Take a good camera with you on every flight

- Images courtesy of Capt Bitz and 2d Lt Gabriel Fletcher Hernandez

Thursday, July 28, 2011

California Wing Mission Pilot School - 8-10 July 2011

The California Wing Mission Pilot School (MPS) was an excellent weekend of flying and training.

Capt Riebli on right attending the morning briefing
It was a chance to fly with more seasoned mentor pilots -- all of whom gave up their weekend just to sit in the right seat and teach us -- to get more exposure to a busy base operation (with 13 planes flying multiple sorties each day), and to work with ground teams.

The most interesting of my four flights was the practice ELT search Sunday morning.  We launched from Concord with instructions to proceed to a large area east of Mt. Diablo.  As we rounded the east side of Mt.
Diablo heading southeast (at 5,500 feet), we picked up the familiar oscillating tone of the practice beacon on the number two communication radio (Com 2).  Though we could hear the beacon, we could not get our L-Tronics Direction Finder (DF) needle to indicate a direction.  So we decided to box our assigned area and then make a decreasing square around the signal.  We identified the eastern edge of our area and began flying south.  As soon as we passed over Byron (C83), the signal faded.  We turned back and eventually set up an orbit over Byron.  We could hear the signal with Com 2 de-squelched, but the signal was not strong enough to break squelch or cause our DF needle to budge.

Without DF information, we resorted to aural techniques.  We turned down Com 2, turned up the DF volume, and began doing turns and wing nulls.  These indicated the beacon was in the direction of Livermore, so we turned west.  The sound of the beacon grew stronger as we flew over the hills, but then faded at about the edge of Livermore's airspace.

UDF member 2d Lt Perreira from SQ188 on left
Once again, we could hear it grow and fade in strength, but our DF gear was useless.  So we descended to about 3,500 feet and began trying to mark out the edges of the area of greatest tone, intending to fly a decreasing square just based on sound.  Once again, the signal did funny things.  Several wing nulls and 720 degree turns later, listening alternately to the tone on Com 2 and L-Tronics, we narrowed the likely area down to the area around the Livermore Gun Club.  We contacted the ground team and directed them to the area of greatest signal strength.  But though we could hear the beacon at 3,500 feet, they could not detect it with their DF gear on the ground.

It turned out that we had gotten them to within about 1/4 mile of the beacon.  It had been placed inside a tree trunk (which is why the ground team couldn't detect it), and its battery had not been charged (which is why the signal was too weak to break squelch or activate our DF gear).  Ed. Note: 2d Lt Perreira from SQ188 was part of the Urban Direction Finder (UDF) team that placed the Practice Beacon in the tree trunk. 

5 of 15 CAP Aircraft
It was, I'm told, a realistic experience:  ELTs end up buried in airplane fuselages and ping for many hours before an airplane comes looking for the signal.  This makes them difficult to detect and harder to pinpoint once detected.

All in all, it was excellent training and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity.

Ed.Note: The MPS is provided to California Wing Mission Pilot Trainees each summer.  The course consists of two days of ground school and two full days of flying.  Each Mission Pilot trainee receives four flights designed to cover the Specialty Qualification Training Requirements for Mission Pilot.  The MPS website is located Here, and more pictures from the School can be found Here.

Capt Frank Riebli is Squadron 188's Safety Officer and is a Mission Pilot Trainee.
Images courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau and Capt Ken Sturgill

Friday, June 10, 2011

Recruiting Update

CAP Plane at Pacific Coast Dream Machines
We are honored at squadron 188 to take part in spreading the word about Civil Air Patrol.

Our 2011 Recruiting team is Capt Noel Luneau, 1st Lt Louis Rivas, 2d Lt Pat Bitz, 2d Lt Douglas Perreira, 2d Lt Mark Viske and SM Adam Kelly. The goal is to increase the public's knowledge of Civil Air Patrol.

USS Hornet

USS Hornet Memorial day 2011 the Hornet staff have been very gracious and provided superb accommodation. We had a great location right next to the ship store. We met and thanked Heidi Schave, education director and Randal Ramian, CEO for their generosity and kindness.

Members of Squadron 188 participated in the Memorial Day remembrance on the USS Hornet. The recruiting team set up a small display in the hanger of the historic carrier. Rear Admiral Thomas L. Andrews (retired) was in attendance. The festivities were started off with a spirited performance of Yankee Doodle by the Young American Patriots Fife & Drum Corps and performances by the Hornet band. Admiral Andrews speech touched on our need and duty to remember the ultimate sacrifice the men and women of our armed services have made, allowing all of us to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Wings of Freedom

Members of Squadron 188 Recruiting team participated in the Wings of Freedom event at the Livermore airport. The Wings of Freedom pays tribute to the B-17, B-24 and P-51 and there were static displays of these aircraft and rides available to a fortunate few. We were graciously hosted by Kevin Ryan and look forward to next year when we can have a bigger presence with our aircraft on display as well as an information table. We set up a booth with a table and chairs, our banner, and  information pamphlets on CAP.

Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)

On May 6-8 we had the pleasure of spending time with the EAA and the young eagles at Hayward airport. Thanks to Pat Polhela with the local EAA chapter, introducing the public to CAP, and for the members of Squadron 188 enjoying the EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast”. We operated out of Mike Cunneens hanger. Although it was windy and a bit chilly, the “Aluminum Overcast” took off each day with a full load of riders on a bay tour that had to be a memory to last a lifetime. We talked to many visitors, and we are now connected with the local EAA chapter.

Dream Machines

Setting up at Pacific Coast Dream Machines
This past May, Squadron 188 kicked off its recruiting campaign at the Pacific Coast Dream Machines show in Half Moon Bay airport. Members of the squadron set up a booth.

Capt Luneau and 2nd Lt Perreira flew CAP 453 to the event. The squeaky clean aircraft once again proved to be a big draw. The pride of 188 was made available to sit in and was a big hit with the kids and their parents. Several former CAP members stopped by throughout the day and shared their experiences as cadets.

All of these events have increased the public's knowledge about Civil Air Patrol, and Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188.  Go Team!

2d Lt Doug Perreira is Squadron 188's Recruiting Officer and is a qualified Mission Observer.
Article written with assistance from 1st Lt Luis Rivas and 2d Lt Pat Bitz
Images courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau and 2d Lt Doug Perreira

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Logbook

Welcome to the newly renamed Squadron 188 Newsletter: The Logbook.  This actually isn't a renaming, it's a renaming of the newsletter back to the original name that was established on 1 September 1989 (Vol.1 No. 1).

In 1990, our first Squadron Commander and founder, Major Paul Groff, commissioned a young 1'st Lt Juan Tinnirello (now Lt Col Tinnirello), to continue with the squadron newsletter.  Lt Tinnirello, took on the task of improving the cover graphics and publishing The Logbook regularly.

Below is a color example (normally black and white) of The Logbook from Jun 1997. The front page is an article from the Squadron's first change of command.  Captain John Matula took command of Squadron 188 from Major Paul Groff.

The Logbook was given the California Wing News Letter of the Year award in Sept 1998.
This award is the only Wing award that carried a $200.00 check attached to it.

Welcome to The Logbook, and enjoy the full article below by clicking
The Logbook, Vol 8 No 4, 10 Jun 1997

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Orientation Rides - Livermore - April 2011

Attitude Aviation, Livermore, CA
A solid deck of clouds hung over Livermore Airport on Saturday morning.  The group of Civil Air Patrol cadets looked toward the eastern horizon where the weather was starting to break. It was from this direction too that they hoped to see the approach of one of the familiar red, white and blue single engine aircraft that the Civil Air Patrol flies in its search and rescue and emergency services mission.  Phone calls and text messages came in from CAP pilots who were flying to Livermore from four locations in the greater bay area.  They reported that the weather was worse in Palo Alto and Oakland from which two of the planes were launching.  The pilot from Reid Hillview airport also reported low ceilings.  Mother Nature was not cooperating with our schedule to conduct orientation flights for 14 CAP cadets, most of who had never been in a small airplane before.  Attitude Aviation was kindly hosting our orientation rides by providing their classroom, washrooms, and ramp.

LtCol Dolnick,  CC of SQ44;
front seat: C/Amn Alexander, SQ36;
back seat: C/Amn Shacker, SQ36
At 10:00 am, the cadets grew excited as blue sky started to show through the clouds.  With the weather starting to clear up the first plane approached and landed.  After a short taxi back to the ramp at Attitude Aviation, Lt Col Brett Dolnick shut down the Cessna 206, hopped out and was soon giving a briefing and orientation talk to the eager cadets.  Soon after, two more CAP aircraft approached piloted by Captains Jeff Ironfield and Noel Luneau.  The ramp became a busy scene as cadets were matched up to aircraft and pilots.  With blue skies and just a few remaining clouds the first aircraft launched off of runway 25 with Lt Col Dolnick at the controls and three cadets eager to taste their first experience of actually flying a real aircraft.

LtCol Dolnick,  CC SQ44; Capt Sena, CC SQ80;
Capt Luneau, CD SQ188; Capt Ironfield, CC SQ188
The cadet orientation flights are one of a host of opportunities afforded Civil Air Patrol cadets.  The orientation ride program consists of a syllabus of five flights.  Each flight covers a different aspect of aviation from basic aircraft control and aerodynamics to weather, navigation and other areas important to an aviator.  The program has inspired many a cadet to pursue an aviation career or to take flying lessons and obtain their private pilot’s certificate.

C/Amn Shacker, SQ36 C/Amn Alexander, SQ36
As the day progressed, our fourth plane piloted by Captain Coby Sena landed, after being delayed by weather and heavy air traffic.  After briefing her two cadets, she was airborne and heading towards the East.  When the final aircraft had landed back at Livermore Airport, fourteen Civil Air Patrol cadets had completed one of their syllabus flights.  When asked how it went, the cadet’s responses were peppered with words like, “awesome”, “outstanding”, and “really fun”.  As the flying day ended and our pilots prepared to launch back to their respective airports the question most heard from the departing cadets was, “When are we going to do this again!”

Editor's note: On way back to Gnoss field in Marin, Lt Col Dolnick and Captain Luneau identified an Emergency Locator Transmitter on the emergency frequency of 121.5 Mhz.  They were given permission to conduct an Electronic Search of the Marin, Petaluma area.  They subsequently found the ELT at Petaluma Airport and identified the aircrafts hangar for a Urban Direction Finding team to identify.

Major Mark Fridell is Group 2's Aerospace Education Officer

Photo's courtesy of Maj Mark Fridell and Capt Noel Luneau. Video courtesy of Maj Mark Fridell

Friday, April 8, 2011

Group 2 Landing Clinic

Andrew Dilworth, Capt, CAP
Director of Standards and Evaluation
Group 2
California Wing

Monday, March 21, 2011

Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Fallout – Northeast Japan, March 2011

SAR activities are underway
Follow up at month three -- post tragedy in Japan, the link to the Daily Mail Online is Here.  We at Civil Air Patrol should study as much as we can about the excellent response to the Tsunami from our counterparts in Japan.

Additionally, the nuclear aspect of the event also appears to within control.  Their response was as good as it gets.


We are all aware of the incredible devastation that Japan has endured from the 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on Friday, 11 March 2011. The resultant tsunami caused the most amount of damage as evidenced by the photo link from ABC below.  When you look at the pictures you can review the before and after contrast by floating your cursor over the individual pictures.  The link is at the ABC site located 

As a result of the tsunami, the Fukushima I and II nuclear power plant crisis has been the most precarious aspect to manage.  The earthquake/tsunami has most likely caused the most serious known breach of a nuclear power plant.  The situation remains very much a minute to minute event unfolding in real time as up to six reactors have been compromised, with the most serious being reactor 3 as it runs on highly toxic mixed uranium and plutonium oxide.  

In March of 2008, I had the privilege of visiting Japan for nearly two weeks.  While visiting, it quickly became evident that Japan was seemingly, very well prepared for these type of disasters, quite possibly even more so than us in America.  The Japanese people are incredibly and impressively orderly as well as organized and the nation has a civil defense force that I saw in action doing drills near Hakone (not far from Tokyo).  As Japan has no formal military due to Article 9 in their constitution, they rely exclusively upon what is known as the “Japan Self-Defense Forces” or JDSF.  Their commensurate  arm of this to our USAF is known as the Japan Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF.

Destruction at the Fukushima Nuclear Power site
Currently the JASDF is pouring water over the breached nuclear power plant reactors in a dire attempt to cool down the reactors and the spent rods pool.  They are utilizing water drops from helicopters to prevent further nuclear fallout as radiation leakage has already happened.  Now it is a race to curtail that leakage as best as possible.  All branches of the JDSF, and numerous Search and Rescue agencies are working feverishly to recover the deceased and make as many rescues as possible of which there have already been some miraculous ones.  At this point in time the situation is bleak, and there is seemingly an indefinite amount of work to do.  102 countries of the world have offered their assistance to Japan, however a signal of how much Japan has their act together is that they have declined the overwhelming majority offered, accepting the help of only 15 nations.  Perhaps because Japan is a first world nation, they have not requested any money.

Tsunami flooding on the Sendai airport runway
In time, we will be better able to study the response as this crisis winds down.  For now, let us closely monitor the situation and learn as much as we can, as such events are just not possible to prepare for.  American's have a lot to learn from the Japanese as they are responding well and as best as could ever be expected or hoped for.  If nothing else good comes of it, we should review the results of their efforts to address areas wherein we can improve our readiness should we ever be called into action on a scale greater than exceeds our training.

Captain Anuruddh Kumar Misra is SQ188's Health Services Officer and is a Medical Doctor.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Livermore SAREX - 12-13 March

Livermore Airport Terminal, Tower and the 40' CAP antenna
Last Sunday I participated in the Group 2 Livermore SAREX at the Livermore Airport (LVK). This was a two day weekend event where many of the participants such as I are trainees. I participated on  Sunday as a Mission Pilot trainee preparing for my Form 91 check out. The Form 91 is an oral and practical exam given by a CAP Mission Pilot check pilot prior to earning the Mission Pilot rating. See the Presidents Day blog postings for more information about the Mission Pilot training.

We were short one aircraft on Sunday, so my task was to drive up to Gnoss Field Airport (DVO) and fly Squadron 23's Cessna-206, callsign CAP 450 down to LVK, fly the sorties and then return to DVO.  There were several sorties scheduled for the Sunday and the deteriorating weather was becoming a factor.  Rain was forecasted for 2:00 PM and I wanted to be airborne back to DVO no later than 1:00 PM.

3 of 5 CAP airplanes at the SAREX
The preflight and weather briefing took a little longer than expected and I was wheels up by 8:30. My 20 minute flight from DVO to LVK was a short flight eastward along the shore of San Pablo Bay followed by a turn southward through the San Ramon Valley and on towards the Livermore airport. 

After landing I quickly secured CAP 450 and hustled into the terminal building and checked in. The crew briefings were underway and soon found out my crew assignment and search scenario. My squadron commander was going to be my Mentor Pilot, and 1st Lt Dave Montgomery and Paul Barrett were going to be the Mission Scanners.

In Grid
The mission for my SAREX scenario was to search in grid SFO 210D (Discovery Bay) for a Cessna 150 which had not arrived at his destination after a flight from San Carlos to Sacramento Executive. We performed the necessary preflight procedures such as direction of flight; identify any hazards to flight, risk assessments and the weight and balance.  Believe it or not the preflight procedures easily take an hour and sometimes longer. This time it took longer, but we were wheels up shortly before noon.

The skies were overcast and there was light rain as we crossed over the hills north-eastward into the central valley.  The central valley is a great place to practice, the terrain is flat and level, and the roads run in a north/south and east/west direction. This makes it easy for the pilot to identify key roads and use them as landmarks and boundaries.  We first flew our search grid at 2000 feet to identify the corners, and then I descended to 1000 feet and flew a parallel search (think rows) from west to east. 

Byron Airport
After our search grid, we headed direct to Byron  Airport and landed.  We had been directed to land there by the Incident Commander and to not check in with base as required. The purpose of this was to test the base staff trainees and see if they would notice that CAP450 had failed to check in and was missing. Aircrews are required to check in (OPS Normal) at the top and bottom of the hour, we did neither. I am happy to report we weren't on the ground 10 minutes before our cell phones were ringing.

I answered my cell phone and the person on the other end was none too happy with us. He wasn’t rude but he was perturbed. I quickly passed the phone to my Commander and let him deal with it. In my eyes the base staff trainees passed the test. We were then ordered to return to base and off we went.

CAP 450 aircrew
The debriefing for our sortie by the Air Operations Branch Director went well. We didn’t find the the missing Cessna 150 but we did provide information about the deteriorating weather, visibility and search conditions. Our INTEL was useful because the Incident Commander was able to discern that a second sortie was not going to be an option.

The weather over DVO also precluded me from returning CAP 450 to DVO, rats! This meant I needed to arrange a ride with my good buddies to drive me the 65 miles in the rain from LVK to DVO. Fortunately this was not a problem and the CO Capt Jeff Ironfield and the XO Capt Noel Luneau, graciously offered me the ride.

All in all, I found the Livermore SAREX to be very well organized, the LVK staff friendly, and the facilities were perfect.  

1st Luis Rivas is SQ188's Assistant Public Affairs Officer and is a Mission Pilot trainee

Images Courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau, Capt Gary Cinnamon, and 2d Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez