Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Presidents' Day Sorties, Part I

On Presidents Day, Squadron 188 members were involved in unfunded aircrew flying training.  The goal was to train and sign off tasks for Mission Pilot Trainees and Mission Scanner Trainees.  In attendance were 1Lt Mike Allen – Supervisor, Capt Noel Luneau – Mission Pilot Mentor, Capt Frank Reibli – Mission Pilot Trainee, 1Lt Luis Rivas – Mission Pilot Trainee, 2Lt Kate Allen – Mission Scanner Trainee, SM Alex Kaplan - Mission Scanner Trainee, and pre-cadet Anastasia Allen - Alerting Officer.

We arrived at Squadron 188 for classroom instruction at 9:30 am.  Our first order of business was discussing how to plan a search using older techniques such as the Delorme, and more modern techniques using Google Maps, and Google Earth.  The  trainees were introduced to CAP Gridmaster, a web based application produced by the Washington state Plaine Field Squadron.  The application provides a method to enter the desired grid by sectional and grid name, as in SFO 238B.  The grid is then represented by Lat and Lon and a Google Terrain Map is displayed with a bounding box representing the grid.  

There is an option to display the grid full browser in Google Terrain, Satellite view, or Google Earth view.  This is a very helpful feature, as the Satellite view and Google Earth allow you to focus in on the grid, visualize the four corners, and identify landmarks of interest.  Utilizing this visual representation of the grid greatly increases situational awareness prior to launching the sortie.

A nearby grid - SFO 238B, was selected to reduce our flight time and maximize the time in the grid.  Grid SFO 238B is just North of Byron,  and encompasses Discovery Bay and an portion of the Delta.

Capt Reibli  and SM Kaplan took the first sortie and were briefed by Lt Mike Allen to identify a white Ford Bronco with a light bar.  After a through pre-flight CAP453 with the three of us aboard took-off from Oakland and headed North-East toward Byron and grid SFO 238B.

We noted that the weather conditions were superb with excellent flight and search visibility and scattered/broken clouds at 3,200 feet.  Our aim during this flight was to sign-off SQTR's for all involved aircrew and to introduce the Parallel search technique to Capt Reibli.  The technique for the first mentored searches are to have the trainee pilot perform the entire search visually, concentrating on maximum visual scan and situational awareness.  The GPS is only used to assist in identifying the four corners of the grids.

We completed the grid search and identified and took a picture of a white Bronco in Discovery Bay.  We then returned to Oakland and prepared to switch crews.

The second sortie was with Lt Rivas, and Lt Kate Allen.  See the Presidents' Day, Part II by Lt Kate Allen for her impressions of her first flight.
The rest of our search was uneventful and 1Lt Rivas practiced both visual and GPS assisted search techniques,  After the search concluded we returned to Oakland to put the plane away and cleanup the base.

After each sortie, Lt Mike Allen debriefed the trainees while I engaged in bio breaks.

A special thank you to Lt Mike Allen and Anastasia for supervising the training.

There are some more pictures of the training activities here:

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

Images courtesy of Capt Noel Luneau and 2d Lt Kate Allen.

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