Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 2014 - First UDF Find!

By 2nd Lt Eric Choate

I called the Incident Commander (IC), Maj. Luneau, shortly after receiving the red alert email for an Aircrew, Ground Crew, and UDF team to search for an ELT northwest of Sacramento.  He said he already had a full aircrew forming in Concord, but would be forming the UDF team soon.  The email came asking for a member with an Oakland badge and a CAP drivers license.  I had both, and after a brief exchange of emails four squadron 188 members were en route to the squadron.

Non-mission photo of CAP4114 used in search
I arrived to find Lt. Chavez retrieving the DF equipment from the cabinet.  I retrieved the van from the airport side (hence the badge requirement) and we commenced loading our Grand Caravan CAP4114 with Lt. Perreira, who had just arrived to help.  Lt. Rugroden arrived and we obtained our tasking from Maj. Luneau.

We were to drive north and clear Angwin and Pope Valley airports, then call in for further instructions.  With the paperwork and vehicle inspection complete, the four of us headed north with myself driving, Rugroden operating the radio, Perreira navigating, and Chavez keeping the log and teaching the UDF-Ts everything we needed to know.

Non-mission photo of CAP481 used in search
Time went by fast - soon were passing Napa airport, and could hear the mission unfolding on the radio with CAP481 launching from Concord and soon flying over us, and Ground Team 1 making their way up I5.  As we were climbing the hill to Angwin, the aircraft reported they had passed Angwin and the signal was still northeast of their position.  With that knowledge, Maj. Luneau asked us to turn around and head east on 128.

Radio reception was poor as we approached the intersection of Pope Valley road and 128.   Unsure if the IC still wanted us to clear Pope Valley Airport, we pulled over to see if we could get a call, or text into the CI and take a bathroom break and stretch our legs for a moment.  Not surprisingly the cell reception was poor as well.  Rugroden tried different repeaters to no avail.  That's when I remembered that my cell phone gets more bars whenever I hold it near anything metal.  First I tried the van door, it went from no bars to one bar.  Then I remembered the van has lots of real antennas on the roof.  I got three to four bars when I placed it near one of the antennas on the roof.  Bingo!  I shot off a text to Maj. Luneau asking if he wanted us to continue on 128, or clear Pope Valley.

He confirmed the aircraft had already cleared Pope Valley and instructed us to continue on 128 to 505 and call him again when we got there.  Right about that time, Rugroden was able to get the same message over the CAP radio.  We all loaded up, and headed east.  The road was winding and slow.  Finally we broke out of the hills and arrived at Winters.  Maj. Luneau instructed us to drive north on 505 to I5 and rendezvous with Ground Team 1.

By this time, CAP481 had narrowed the search area to the town of Dunnigan confirming the ELT would most likely be coming from the aircraft that crashed there the day before.  We arrived in Dunnigan at about 2am.  There we met up with Ground Team 1 and waited about 30 minutes for the Sheriff who would lead us out to and open a gate for us.  Just east of town, the Sheriff let us through the gate and we all parked a short distance inside the gate.

From there members of GT1 and UDF1, with DF equipment in hand, proceeded to walk down the road in the direction of the signal.  About a 1/4 mile down the road, the signal started to indicate that we were close.  Soon an out of place tail of an aircraft emerged from the darkness, reflecting the light from our head lamps.  We'd found it!

It was nose down but largely intact.  The ELT was visible just behind the co-pilot seat.  With the assistance of the Sheriff, we were able to silence the beacon.  Make, model and serial number of the ELT were reported to the IC, along with the N number of the aircraft.  We then headed back to the vehicles, loaded up and headed back into town.  A quick bathroom break turned into coffee and breakfast as it was 4am by this time.  An hour and a half later we were back at the squadron.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flying is a Ground Reference Maneuver!

By 1st Lt Gene Rugroden

Flying is a ground reference maneuver, by contact, or simulated by instruments.

From navigation to the landing touchdown, pilots concern themselves with position, altitude, rate of altitude change, ground track, and sometimes airspeed and yaw.  The age old question of "how do I know when to flair" is a cause of instructor anxiety.  Sometimes flair is called "round out".  Always, it is pitch control to stop the rate of decent to zero with reference to the ground.  Let's erase the word "flair" from our training lexicon.  Instead, shall we teach that a smooth landing requires the pitch control that is required to stop the rate of descent at an altitude of six inches above the runway?  As the airspeed bleeds off and the student keeps the aircraft at six inches, soon the aircraft will kiss the runway.  Of course, this assumes the power package is only producing about five percent, the aircraft is tracking the runway centerline, and the aircraft longitudinal axis is parallel with same.  ALL of this is referenced to the ground, more specifically the runway.

So, how do we teach this?

This writer thinks the student should experience as much low ground reference training as quickly as possible.   At less than five feet above the runway, errors in all aircraft axes are very clear.  Hand-eye coordination improvement is rapid.

The method I use with primary students is to spend the first five hours in the pattern.  Think about this.

In the pattern:

  • We track the runway centerline adjusting for "P" factor on the take-off roll.
  • The student experiences: straight and level, straight climbs, straight descents, turning climbs, turning descents, slow flight with and without flaps, power control, and can even experience stall burble down-wind.

At the conclusion of the approach to the runway, a landing is simply flying the aircraft at six inches above the runway controlling the aircraft.

Usually I explain the pattern elements from the lesson plan and start the student flying the pattern down to 500' AGL the length of runway.  Then 200', 100', 20', add communication with the tower, 10', 5', and then the magical six inches. The student will learn that the length, or time, at six inches has to do with landing engine power and the over the fence airspeed. Read that "Float".

We are all students,  improving our skills...

The next installment is cross-wind landings.

Now go fly...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 2014, All Hands Meeting

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, Photos Courtesy of Col Juan Tinnirello

Safety Briefing 

Safety Officer
Maj Frank Riebli
The safety briefing this month helped us all to understand the role of the Flight Release Officer (FRO), which is also described in CAPR 60-1.
FRO Capt Chris Johnson

Capt Chris Johnson conducted the safety briefing, as he is one of the squadron’s FROs.

For any given flight, the FRO is responsible both to the pilot in command (PIC) of the flight and to the corporation, i.e., Civil Air Patrol. This dual responsibility is to help ensure the safety of the flight and, in case any mishaps do occur, to help ensure the appropriate steps were and are followed, for insurance and other reasons.

To help the FRO do his/her job and for the PIC to take responsibility for the safety of the flight itself, the PIC for each flight must:
  • Provide all required documentation
  • Obtain a flight release (from the FRO)
  • Certify the eligibility of passengers, which varies by mission
  • Be clear about the mission type (A, B or C)
  • Fly the mission as released
  • Maintain a flight log
  • Follow local unit instructions
Standards and Evaluation
Officer Capt George
Understanding different mission types is as critical for pilots as for FROs.  The difference between B12 and C12 missions, for example, is that B12 missions are covered by higher levels of Federal Government insurance, and C12 missions are covered by Corporate insurance.  That is a significant difference if anything "unplanned" happens. The requirement though is that a B12 flight *must* fit in one of the flight profiles explained in 60-1.

Some profiles are available only to Mission Pilots (MPs), but they all specify a number of tasks that must be completed for the flight to fit the profile. When creating the sortie, pilots must specify the profile along with the mission symbol. CAP pilots who are not MPs or TMPs are restricted to C12.

If the FRO has any doubts about either the safety or the legitimacy of the flight or about the aircraft status, then the FRO will decline to release the flight.


Ops is seeking more Ground Team members and Base Staff.

Communications will be conducting a communications training in Hayward on March 22-23. This is part of a multi-event training throughout the year pertaining to HF radios.

SM Tim Roberts
Welcome New Members

Finally, a warm welcome to our 2 new members:
SM Chris Fenolio
SM Tim Roberts

Monday, March 17, 2014

Amelia Earhart - 17 March, 1937

Noel Luneau
Squadron Commander
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

Amelia Earhart and her crew pose in front of the
1936 Electra 10E Special.
Left to right, Paul Mantz, co-pilot; Amelia Earhart, pilot;
Captain Harry V. Manning, radio operator/navigator;
and Captain Frederick J. Noonan, also a navigator,

On this St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1937, Amelia Earhart, Captain Harry Manning, Captain Frederick Noonan, and Paul Mantz departed Oakland Airport and bound for Honolulu.  This was to be the first leg on their round-the-world-flight.

The previous night, Amelia Earhart stayed at the Oakland Airport Terminal and Hotel, the present day home of Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188 - Civil Air Patrol.

In addition to Earhart and Noonan, Harry Manning and Mantz (who was acting as Earhart's technical advisor) were on board. Due to lubrication and galling problems with the propeller hubs' variable pitch mechanisms, the aircraft needed servicing in Hawaii. The Electra ended up at the United States Navy's Luke Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor for repairs. Three days later, the flight resumed from Luke Field with Earhart, Noonan and Manning on board. During the takeoff run, Earhart ground-looped the Electra, in circumstances that remain controversial.

With the aircraft severely damaged, the flight was called off and the aircraft was shipped by sea to the Lockheed Burbank facility for repairs.

Stay tuned with "The Logbook" for Amelia's second attempt at an around-the-world-flight.

The planned flight route.
For more information see the following Websites:
1. This Day in Aviation
2. The official website of Amelia Earhart
3. Wikipedia - Amelia Earhart

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 2014, Squadron 188's Newest Pilot - Capt DeFord

By Capt Steven DeFord and 2Lt Karin Hollerbach, Photo Courtesy of - Unknown Lineman (thank you!)

It was with some apprehension that Capt Steven DeFord arrived at Concord to take his Form 5 ride with Capt Jeff Ironfield.  His last Form 5 was 3 years ago, in a different state (PA), and a different airplane (round dial C172).

Capt Jeff Ironfield and Capt Steven DeFord
Thanks to the time volunteered by Lt Col Brett Dolnick and Capt George Michelogiannakis cross-training to the G1000, Capt DeFord was deemed ready for his checkride, and after one missed opportunity due to weather, it was finally time.

The ride started by playing to Capt DeFord’s strengths -- flight by reference to instruments (Capt DeFord is an instrument rated pilot), maneuvers, and ground reference.  The lack of wind certainly helped with the ground reference maneuvers!  This was helpful in alleviating Capt DeFord's worries before coming back for the more challenging parts of his ride -- use of the G1000 bells and whistles and performance landings. Capt DeFord claims some of his landings were less than glass-smooth. Nonetheless, Capt Ironfield was able to confirm his safe piloting skills, and granted him a pass on his Form 5, making Capt DeFord Squadron 188's newest VFR/TMP pilot.

Congratulations, Capt DeFord!

Besides being a capable pilot, Capt DeFord is an Emergency Room physician.   He has been a member of CAP since 2010 and of Squadron 188 since 2013. He serves as the squadron’s Operations Officer.

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 2014, Airborne Photography Ground School

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, Photo Courtesy of Capt Maggie Wang

Another weekend, another CAP training!  On two weekends in February/March, Group 2 and Group 5 hosted two consecutive Airborne Photography (AP) Ground Schools, one at Squadron 188 in Oakland, California, and the second one at Squadron 14 in Sacramento, California.

Lt Col John Aylesworth, CAWG, and Capt Don Eichelberger, Squadron 188
CAP members from around the Bay Area as well as Sacramento spent two days together, to be trained in becoming Airborne Photographers.  With AP becoming the new #1 Mission for CAP in California Wing, there was a great deal of interest in this training opportunity.

Capt Don Eichelberger of Squadron 188 taught both courses.

 Some of the topics we covered in class included –
  • AP duties and missions  
  • How flying an AP mission, versus a more familiar SAR mission, impacts the roles of the 3-person crew, Mission Pilot, Mission Observer, and Mission Scanner-now-Airborne Photographer. Warning, this might require a bit of a cultural shift in how roles are allocated and viewed.  
  • Logistics involved in tracking and recording image metadata – a multi-person job!  
  • Digital SLR camera setup and operation, exposure modes, metering, focusing
  • Basic principles of photography, including exposure, composition, depth of field
  • Understanding the customer’s needs vis-à-vis photographic images
  • Guidelines and restrictions on photographs and their usage
  • Digital image processing, handling, and transferring; file formats, etc.
  • Preparing for an imaging sortie – and how this is different from a SAR sortie, including how flight patterns may be affected
  • Conducting an imaging sortie – including communications and various factors that may adversely affect mission success
  • Debriefing after the sortie 
For example, to prepare for an imaging sortie, you might need to get the following type of information in advance:
  • What and where is the target (name, location, and verbal description)?
  • How should the target and surrounding area be imaged? 
  • Are certain lighting conditions over the target area more desirable than others?
  • What information is needed to accompany the images?
  • What image format and naming convention is needed?
  • What image quality is needed? 
  • Is it OK to crop images or otherwise process them?  Are some types of processing desired, like addition of text or symbols? 
  • What file formats are needed? 
Finally, during an imaging sortie and BEFORE you return to base, you must remember to check and make sure that you got all the quality images that you want, because you don’t want to fly all the way back to mission base and then discover that you missed a shot, or that your shots weren’t framed or focused properly, or that the GPS had become disconnected or lost satellite lock while you were taking the photos.

As with the recent MS Ground School, the most fun was the hands on part:  When we went to the hangar and saw for ourselves just how awkward it is to get the right shots at the right angle while crammed into the back seat of the plane, and how it really looks and feels to point the camera out of the plane at various specific angles. Even more fun was the Drive-by-(Photo-)Shooting where we practiced taking pictures of targets while driving past them, maybe not at airplane speeds but at least at automobile speeds.

Next stop, practicing our new skills and demonstrating them in the Fam & Prep tasks. For those of you who have been through the AP Ground School:  Make sure you sign up for the upcoming Disaster Relief Exercise in Sacramento (March 22-23) and/or the one in Oakland (May 3-4).