Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 2014, Mission Scanner Ground School

By 2d Lt Hollerbach, Photos Courtesy of Maj Luneau and 2d Lt Hollerbach

Capt Edwards Kicking Off the MS Ground School
Last weekend I attended the Mission Scanner (MS) Ground School hosted by Group 2 at SQ188 in Oakland, California.

CAP members from around the Bay Area as well as Sacramento and as far south as San Diego spent two days together, to be trained in becoming Mission Scanners.  The class also included a great mix of backgrounds, including both pilots and non-pilots, as well as both members that were very new to CAP and some that were renewing their existing Scanner certifications.
MS Ground School Class

A few of the topics we covered in class included –
Class Members CAREFULLY Pushing CAP 445 into
Position in the Hangar
  • Scanner duties and missions - whether it's a search and rescue (SAR) mission or an airborne photography mission or something else, the scanner's main job is to... well, scan!  This is the reason the airplane is up in the air on most missions. 
  • Basic aircraft and navigation familiarization - this was particularly helpful to the non-pilots in the class and a good reminder for everyone. 
  • Survival and urgent care issues - we talked about both survival and urgent care issues related to the people we might be searching for on a SAR mission and survival gear for ourselves as air crew. Can you guess what the most important survival tool is if you find yourself in an emergency situation after a crash or other off airport landing?  If you don't know, you'll just have to take the next MS Ground School and find out... 
    Capt Johnson Discussing Grid Searches
  • Air to air and air to ground communications - besides talking about proper communications technique, we took at look at some of the communications equipment we might expect to find in CAP planes, which are not all the same.
  • Weather and how it affects search planning and scanning effectiveness - whether it's fog, smoke, dust, rain, haze, clouds (or lack thereof), the position of the sun, etc., all of these factors impact how effective we are on any given mission. Some of these factors we can work with, others ... sometimes it's best to call it a day and come back later when the weather has changed. 
    Capt Eichelberger, one of the Instructors in the
    Tabletop Exercise
  • High altitude and terrain considerations - not only does high altitude affect aircrew (and survivor on the ground) safety, the presence or absence of higher altitude terrain also impacts search patterns and how best to be effective.  
  • Crew resource management (CRM) - those of us who were not yet Mission Scanners previously gained an appreciation for the intense workload associated with scanning and all other aspects of flying a SAR mission, and learned about aspects of CRM that can help distribute the load and create a safe environment for the aircrew. 

CAP 481 and CAP 445 Used for Training at the
Ground School
The course was taught by Capt Joshua Edwards, 1st Lt Jordan Hayes, Maj Noel Luneau, Capt Ray Woo, Capt Chris Johnson, Maj Chris Suter, and Lt Col Brett Dolnick.

Hands-On Learning in the Tabletop Exercise
The students seemed to agree that the most fun part of the class was the tabletop exercise, where we went to the hangar, learned about the radio and navigational equipment in the two planes (CAP 445 and CAP 481) and planned and discussed a flight to our assigned grid, and the search pattern we would use within the grid. We all practiced planning, using the information we were briefed with, a sectional chart, and all the skills we had just learned.  We also demonstrated scanning techniques, as well as logging data and operating the radios.

Happily, everyone passed the test, and we have a brand new batch of almost-Scanners.  OK, that’s not an official term, but we are now better educated Mission Scanner Trainees.  Next, we need to complete our Scanner training by participating in one of the upcoming exercises and put all of our learning to good use in hands-on, in the air practice.

Graduates of the Mission Scanner Ground School

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