Tuesday, June 24, 2014

May 2014 - Cadets Get to Fly Gliders at Byron Airport!

By 2Lt Karin Hollerbach and 2Lt Matthew Gast, photos unknown

2Lt Van Henson, Cadet O'Neil, Capt Lutz Heinrich,
Cadet Mittal, Cadet Estrada
On the 18th of May, several members of our squadron (and others) made their way to Byron airport to help with providing cadet glider O-rides. Three cadets from Squadron 36, Cadets O'Neil, Mittal and Estrada, were lucky enough to get glider rides that day.

In their CAP career, cadets are entitled to 5 power and 5 glider orientation rides (“O-rides”). Many of them are interested in aviation.  Some have been up in a Cessna, but an O-ride is usually their first experience with a glider.

Ground school before the O-rides
Cadets are put on a rotating schedule and are flown by volunteer pilots.  Maj. Bob Semans, who is in the Soaring Hall of Fame, has done quite a lot to make the glider program happen, and is heavily involved.  Glider pilots are CAP pilots, and therefore, like all CAP pilots, volunteers.  Rides are usually done on Sunday mornings.  Each ride consists of about 20 minutes of flight.  CAPP 52-7 has five syllabi for flights, including:

  • Syllabus 1 (corresponding to flight 1) – ground work, preflight, takeoff, climb out, release, very basic controls, approach, landing
  • Syllabus 2 – trim, clearing, straight and turning glides, load factor 
  • Later flights – stalls, slips, coordination, instruments, and soaring

Recently, one cadet joined the Northern California Soaring Association (NCSA) after his O-ride and began taking flight lessons - one of the strongest endorsements of the glider program.
Getting ready to head to the glider, 2Lt Eric Choate;
Cadets Estrada, Mittal and O'Neil; and 2Lt Van Henson

Setting up to be towed
Glider flights are great for illustrating concepts because it's just you and the atmosphere.  Want to illustrate coordination?  Easy in a glider, especially with our giant wings and big adverse yaw.  Glider pilot 2Lt Gast, who has flown cadets from Squadrons 10 (Palo Alto), 13 (Santa Cruz/Watsonville), 18 (Hayward), 36 (San Jose), 44 (Concord), 86 (San Francisco), and 192 (San Carlos), lets cadets handle the controls as much as possible, so they make the turns.  According to 2Lt Gast, “the sheer joy watching a cadet keep the turn going in a thermal is worth every second of the preparation to pull it off. When possible, I'll use a thermal to gain lift and keep the flight going. I have yet to have a cadet want to land.”

Since many CAP Wings do not own any gliders, there is a somewhat long-standing agreement between the Soaring Society of America (SSA) and CAP.  In areas where there is not a CAP-owned corporate glider, CAP uses SSA member clubs to provide the orientation.  In our case, NCSA is the nearest SSA club with CAP pilot members, and we are grateful for their generous support of the O-ride program.
Lt Col Juan Tinnirello ferried glider and cadets to the runway.

Thanks to
  • Flight Release Officers (FROs) Maj Chris Johnson and Capt Kathy Johnson
  • 2Lt Eric Choate, who flew 445CP to pick up Cadets O’Neil, Estrada, and Mittal from Reid-Hillview and flew them to Byron
  • Lt Col Juan Tinnirello, who towed the glider to the runway and ferried the cadets (and senior members) between the glider club house and the runway
  • 2Lt Van Henson, who took the cadets for their glider O-rides
  • Capt Lutz Heinrich, who helped with ground operations

Cadet Mittal is ready to fly!

Cadet Estrada at the controls

And they're off...

Monday, June 23, 2014


By 1Lt Jordan Hayes

CONSTANT WATCH 14 was a nationwide communications exercise simulating tasking from FEMA to use the CAP HF network to pass coded message traffic from each of their 9 regional HQ.  FEMA Region 9 HQ is in Oakland, so Oakland was the logical station choice.

Major Wang and I from Sq188, plus Capt Gadd and 2Lt Thornton from Sq80, and 2Lt Alferov from Sq10 met at the Oakland squadron building around 7am.  We loaded up equipment and supplies in CAP04114 and drove to the Martin Luther King Jr Shoreline Regional Park.

Field Station
We set up a Field Station in the park and deployed both a 90' wideband HF antenna and a directional VHF antenna on a 30' mast.  We began to make HF contacts using a CAWG RDP (portable HF radio) on emergency (battery) power.

Meanwhile, CAP481 launched from KCCR with a portable repeater installed.  We established comms with them and held their radio guard throughout their flight.  CAP481 climbed to 7500' and orbited in grid SFO299, approximately 100 miles from the Oakland base.  Mobile Radio Relay vehicle CAP04999 with a crew from Bakersfield drove to Harris Ranch and established their operating position about 80 miles southwest of CAP481.

We established comms between Oakland and Harris Ranch via the airborne repeater, and passed message traffic.  During the exercise, we were visited by CAWG/DC Maj Suter and were in contact with IC Maj Anthony.

2Lt Thornton completed some SQTR tasks for MRO, and 2Lt Alferov both renewed his MRO rating and completed the requirements for his Communications TECHNICIAN rating.

On Sunday, due to reduced staffing, Maj Wang and I drove Concord's vehicle CAP04991 up to the top of Mt Diablo and deployed the HF radio, making contacts in neighboring states and regions and successfully completing passing the remaining traffic for the exercise.  Major Wang completed the requirements for her Communications TECHNICIAN rating.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 2014, All Hands Meeting

By 2Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos courtesy of Lt Col Juan Tinnirello

At the June All Hands Meeting, we reviewed the Squadron’s May accomplishments, including:
Squadron members before the meeting

  • The successful Disaster Relief Exercise (DRE) in 3-4 May (read about it here)
  • Thanks to Lt Col Roger Glenn, and the friendly folks at Travis Air Force Base, several members had the opportunity to fly the C-17 simulator at Travis.
  • Capt George Michelogiannakis supported the Travis Squadron Cadet O-ride program by providing an aircraft/pilot for the event.
  • Capt Michelogiannakis flew 4 training flights and continues to provide flight training for those aspiring to become CAP qualified pilots.
  • 2Lt Eric Choate flew powered O-Rides at Byron.
  • 2Lt Mtthew Gast flew glider O-Rides at Byron.
  • 1Lt Patrick Bitz attended the Aerospace Education School in Alaska. 

Capt Lou Rivas leading the meeting

Congratulations to the following members for their accomplishments:

  • Level 3 training – Capt Kathy Johnson, who is now eligible for the Grover Loening Award
  • Planning Section Chief rating – Capt Steven DeFord
  • Logistics Section Chief rating – 1Lt Jordan Hayes
  • Mission Observer (MO) rating – Capt DeFord, 2Lt Choate, and 1Lt Robert Kraus
  • Airborne Photography (AP) rating – Maj Maggie Wang, 1Lt Rex Beach, and 1Lt John Stevulak
  • Mission Scanner (MS) rating – 2Lt Hollerbach and 2Lt Gast
  • Mission Radio Operator (MRO) rating – 2Lt Hollerbach
  • Mission Staff Assistant (MSA) rating – SM Tim Roberts and 1Lt Gene Rugroden

SM Michael Smith

Welcome New Member
A warm welcome to our newest member, SM Michael Smith!

Upcoming Events
Upcoming (June) events include:

  • Wing Led Exercise (WLE) in Concord, 7-8 June
  • Mission Aircrew Ground School in Oakland, 21-22 June

Safety Briefing
Major Frank Riebli led an outstanding discussion and accident analysis. Our discussion focused on the many things that were done well before and during this mountain flight, for example:

  • The pilot hired a very experienced local CFI.
  • The airplane was capable for the job and properly maintained.
  • The pilot ensured proper weight & balance, dumping excess weight in advance of the flight.
  • There was sufficient fuel.
  • The pilot and passengers carried two SPOT trackers and a 406 mHz ELT, with one set to auto-broadcast, pinging every 10 minutes.

Maj Riebli leading the safety briefing
Despite the precautions taken and the level of experience among the people in the aircraft, the accident led to the deaths of all 3 people on board. In our discussion, we also looked at possible factors that may have been involved in creating this accident, such as fatigue, weather, difficult mountainous terrain, turbulence and gusting winds in the vicinity, as well as standing waves at about 1000 AGL, and others.

All in all, an insightful analysis and a sobering discussion of the things that can go very wrong.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

May 2014, All Hands Meeting

By 2Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos courtesy of 1Lt Patrick Bitz, except where noted

A brief update this month, because I missed much of the meeting since I was tasked with helping to move the airplane during that time.

Promotions and Accomplishments

Promotions this month included:

  • 2Lt Wayne Cao promoted to 1Lt
  • 2Lt John Stevulak promoted to 1Lt
  • Capt Chris Johnson promoted to Maj

In addition, squadron members achieved the following accomplishments:

Leadership Ribbon - for achieving a Technician rating in a specialty track
1Lt John Stevulak and Capt Luis Rivas

  • 1Lt John Stevulak

Level I - Membership Award

  • SM Tim Roberts

Chuck Yeager Aerospace Education Achievement Award

  • 2Lt Matthew Gast

Red Service Award

  • 1Lt Cao - 5 year clasp
  • Capt Douglas Ramsey - 10 year clasp

CAP Pilot

  • 2Lt Gast - Glider Pilot

Congratulations to all!

Group Get-Together and Photo
Capt Luis Rivas showed off the squadron photo taken last month.
Capt Rivas

Photo courtesy of Unknown Squadron Member

Safety Briefing
1Lt Robert Kraus

1Lt Robert Kraus led a discussion, aimed at our non-pilot members, about weight and balance considerations when flying.