Sunday, August 31, 2014

Western Air Defense Sector missions - and how NOT to be intercepted

By Maj Noel Luneau

In August 2014, members of Squadron 188 participated in a number of Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) missions. The goal of the missions is to provide USAF fighter pilots with valuable training in the interception of light aircraft.  CAP aircraft are ideal platforms for interception training as they are in the light aircraft category.

Without CAP to assist in a realistic interception scenario the USAF fighter pilots often have to practice with themselves, which is not as realistic as utilizing light aircraft as the interception target.

Maj Jeff Ironfield and Lt Jordan Hayes acted as the target aircraft in an interception, Lt Hayes acted as a Highbird communications relay for another mission that Maj Noel Luneau was Incident Commander trainee for, and Major Luneau and Lt Karin Hollerbach flew as a Highbird communication relay for a third mission.

144th Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle *

How not to be intercepted:
  1. Get a complete weather briefing the includes TFRs and NOTAMs
  2. File IFR or use flight following to ensure that you are in contact with ATC throughout your flight
What to do if intercepted:

As per AIM 5-6-2, an intercepted aircraft must, without delay:
  • Adhere to instructions relayed through the use of visual devices, visual signals, and radio communications from the intercepting aircraft.
  • Attempt to establish radio communications with the intercepting aircraft or with the appropriate air traffic control facility by making a general call on guard frequencies (121.5 or 243.0 MHz), giving the identity, position, and nature of the flight.
  • If transponder-equipped, select Mode3/Code 7700 unless otherwise instructed by air traffic control.
  • NOTE - If instruction received from any agency conflicts with that given by the intercepting aircraft through visual or radio communications, the intercepted aircraft must seek immediate clarification.
  • The crew of the intercepted aircraft must continue to comply with interceptor aircraft signals and instructions until positively released

*Photo source:

"144th FW F-15 Eagle" by Master Sgt. Roy Santana, US Air Force - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Congratulations to Squadron 188's 2 New Mission Pilots!

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach

2d Lt Eric Choate following his successful Form 91 flight.
(Photo Capt Ray Woo)
Congratulations to Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis and 2d Lt Eric Choate!  On August 23rd, both pilots were successful in their Form 91 evaluations and are now Squadron 188’s latest Mission Pilots (MPs).

Both pilots trained at CAWG’s Mission Aircrew School (MAS) in Fresno in July.  A big thank you to their mentor pilots at the MAS, who invested the time in helping Capt Michelogiannakis and 2d Lt Choate in their training: Capt Joshua Edwards from Squadron 10, Palo Alto, and Capt Thomas O’Connor from Squadron 5, Riverside.
Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis following his successful
Form 91 flight. (Photo Capt Ray Woo)

Special thanks also to Capt Ray Woo for serving as check pilot to both of our new MPs.

Capt Ray Woo, Squadron 10, Palo Alto,
CAWG Deputy DOV  (Photo 2d Lt Hollerbach)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mountain Fury - NorCal Mountain Flying Clinic

By Capt Louis Rivas and 2d Lt Brandy Ahearn (Squadron 92), photos by Maj Noel Luneau and Capt Rivas

CAP plane at MFC (photo by Maj Luneau)
CAP planes at MFC (photo by Maj Luneau)
One August weekend, CAP squadron members from Northern, Central and Southern California converged on Auburn Airport to take part in a CAP training exercise, the California Wing (CAWG) Mountain Flying Clinic (MFC). Squadron 92 in Auburn, CA hosted the MFC on August 16 & 17, 2014.  The MFC, also known as Mountain Fury, is an annual event to provide an opportunity for CAP Mission Pilots who are unfamiliar with flying in the high Sierra Mountains a chance to learn the critical techniques used to safely and effectively search in mountainous terrain.

The course is combination of academic work and flight training at elevations exceeding 8000’. The training includes weather interpretation, emergency maneuvers, and landing techniques at high altitude airports.

CAP plane at sunset (photo by Maj Luneau)
In addition to training pilots, the training mission provided an opportunity for the mission base staff to train in such areas as communications and operations.

Capt Joshua Edwards (photo by Capt Rivas)
Attending from Squadron 188 were Maj Noel Luneau, the Incident Commander, Maj Maggie Wang, a Mission Safety Officer Trainee, and Capt's Luis Rivas and Jeff Ironfield serving as Air Operations Branch Trainees.

A total of seven CAP aircraft were present, with five aircraft being utilized for training.

Mountain flying is different than flying in the valley areas due to all of the environmental conditions associated with mountain ranges, valleys and ridges, such as changes in air density, extreme weather and thunderstorms.  Each student was paired with a seasoned mentor pilot to teach them the proper techniques to conduct search and rescue in varied terrain and weather conditions and how to operate out of high mountain airfields.

Capt Ironfield, Capt Rivas, flight crew (photo provided
by Capt Rivas)
The weather conditions were ideal with only a little haze on day one, light to moderate winds. Thunderstorm activity did not start until after all the training missions were completed.  Day two presented a little more haze from fires around the area, and training concluded early afternoon, just before the thunderheads started building up over the Sierras.

The training at the MFC was invaluable and everyone involved was able to take away something new from the weekend.

It was a successful event that graduated a number of newly qualified CAP MFC qualified pilots. All of those chosen for the rigorous MFC passed their final check ride. Hooray! Because of their efforts, the CAWG was able to increase its operational capabilities.

A great big “Shout Out” from Squadron 188 to Auburn-Starr Composite Squadron 92, our host. Their members provided a first rate facility and a steady stream of refreshments, and generally made sure their guests had all they needed to conduct a successful MFC clinic. We look forward to working with them in the future.

CAP planes at the MFC (photo by Capt Rivas)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Congratulations to Squadron 188's Newest Mission Pilot - Maj DeFord

By 2d Lt Hollerbach

Congratulations to Maj Steven DeFord on passing his Form 91!  Maj DeFord is Squadron 188's newest Mission Pilot.  I had the privilege of flying with Maj DeFord during the Mission Aircrew School's training weekend and am not surprised that he passed!

Maj Steven DeFord following his Form 91 evaluation. 

Maj DeFord has been an active member of the Amelia Earhart Squadron 188 since 2013, where he serves as the Emergency Services (ES) Officer and is a member to the Senior Staff. In the past year, Maj DeFord has participated in no less than 9 exercises, 4 mission sorties, 3 of which were actual ELT searches that resulted in 2 finds. Earlier this year, Maj DeFord achieved his Mission Observer (MO) and Planning Section Chief (PSC) ratings. In 2013, Maj DeFord attended the Hawk Mountain Ranger School where he earned a Black Belt, their highest rating.

When he is not helping CAP achieve its mission, Dr DeFord works as an emergency room doctor. We are grateful for Maj DeFord's dedication and commitment to CAP.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach - with contributions from several CAP members

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA’s) fly-in airshow is held annually in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  This year, it was held from July 28 – August 3. It is one of the largest events of its kind, attracting over half a million aviation fans, among them, of course, CAP members.  According to EAA, this year’s show may have been their biggest event to date.

Our squadron did not have any official presence at Oshkosh. One member did report seeing CAP members working the flight line, to help keep the event safe for everyone.

Some comments we got back from CAP members attending the show:
  • My favorite airplane is the Just Aircraft SuperSTOL, which has leading edge slats, big flaps, and a shock-absorbing landing gear.  It practically lands on a helipad!  It was operating off the ultralight runway, and I think it landed shorter than the parachute wing tricycles!  It's a simple plane, so I really liked the Spartan panel layout as contrasted with the two ANR headsets hanging in the airplane for use by the pilots.
  • The airshow!  The Thunderbirds were in attendance. According to EAA, this was their first ever appearance at the show.  Many of the maneuvers they showed off were similar to what other air teams were doing, but to a vastly higher level of precision and conducted at much closer to the speed of sound.  You can't quite believe that you're seeing planes screaming at 700 mph doing stuff like this! 
Not from this year's Oshkosh but another performance by the Thunderbirds: from the 2011 Aviation Nation Nellis Open House at Nellis Air Force base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald)
  • My thought on the air shows?  I saw barrels of smoke oil being moved around the field.  Just as Mark Twain said never to pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel, I think pilots should say to avoid getting into an acrobatic contest when your opponents buy smoke oil by the barrel!
  • The Geico Skytypers use WW2-era SNJ trainers, under computer control to essentially do a dot matrix printout of characters.  They developed their own software, and yes, it does have a spell checker, but no autocorrect.
  • Walking the parking area and talking to people who had built their own airplanes.  This is so common at Oshkosh that if you want to know what a particular model is like, just ask.  Most people are happy to talk about their airplanes.
  • The amateur-built Rotorway helicopter kit.  I don't know how I feel about it, but it's cool to see lightweight helicopters in addition to fixed-wing aircraft.
  • Cessna announced that they will be offering a compression ignition powered C-172 to go along with the C-182. Diesel may be CAP’s future at some point, so it would be good to start learning about how they work (there are competing technologies at the moment).
  • Garmin is really pushing their VIRB camera. We may start using one of the versions of this camera in our aerial photography.
  • Boeing was a big sponsor this year. It seems they were marketing and recruiting for expected shortages of pilots etc. in the future. A good time to be young and have an interest in aviation!
  • Being able to buy anything I wanted related to aviation.  It was easy to try on any headset you'd want because most of the vendors had exhibit space (either tents outside or a booth inside one of the big hangars).  I picked out a new flight bag as well as a headset.  In the more esoteric products, you can purchase an oxygen mask and ear protection for your dog, both available from multiple sellers.
  • I considered buying a DeLorme Inreach, which uses the Iridium satellite network to track your position.  I know several pilots who use either a DeLorme or a Spot and who like flying with the extra peace of mind.  Being able to handle a unit and ask questions of a rep helped me make a better purchase.

Also not from this year's Oshkosh but another performance by the Thunderbirds: "Tbirdscalypsopass" by Staff Sgt Richard Rose Jr, US Air Force.

Overall, it’s total immersion in everything aviation.  If you’ve never been, maybe next year is the time to check it out.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


By Lt Col Juan Tinnirello, CAP

Mr. Elwood A. Ballard and his wife Floy (right side)
with Amelia's mother Debborah Dale, awaiting the arrival.
Back in the year 1937, a famous aviatrix by the name of Amelia Mary Earhart, departed from the Oakland Airport on May 20, to fly around the world in a twin engine Lockheed Electra 10E monoplane.  She departed Lae, New Guinea on July 2, 1937, but unfortunately, she disappeared near Howland Island, in the Pacific, and was never found.

Amelia being interviewed and photographed
by many TV and newspapers' reporters.

Amelia Rose Earhart and Lt Col Tinnirello shortly
after her arrival.

Now, 77 years later, another aviatrix by the name of Amelia Rose Earhart started the trip from the now Oakland International Airport, North Field, to repeat the flight around the world.  Amelia Rose Earhart is no relation to the original Amelia but was named after her and has been inspired by her.

Amelia Rose Earhart is embraced by her father Glen Earhart.

Amelia Rose Earhart,  Lt Col Tinnirello and
Juliet Goodrich, Channel 7 news anchor.

Amelia Rose Earhart holds the Squadron 188 flag.
This time, Amelia Rose Earhart flew a Pilatus PC-12 NG turboprop (single engine) monoplane with the latest technology for communication and Global Positioning System (GPS). The communication allowed Ms. Earhart to be in contact with any radio station at any airport. In addition, she had on board a satellite telephone. The plane, a very reliable model with a turbine engine, allowed her to climb to 23,000 ft. altitude with no problem at all, with speeds in the range of 230 knots (253 miles per hour).

Amelia Rose Earhart embraces Lt Col Tinnirello
during this very emotional moment.

Ms. Earhart was accompanied by copilot Shane Jordan, from Denver.

On her departure from Oakland on June 23, the writer made a deal with Amelia Rose.  He gave her 2 patches of the Amelia Earhart, Senior Squadron 188 of the Civil Air Patrol, on one condition.  She would take both patches around the world. On her return she would keep one, and the other one would be placed on the Amelia Mary Earhart Wall of Fame at the Squadron 188 Headquarters, located at the Oakland International Airport, North field.  The patch was placed on a special frame naming the event and signed by Amelia Rose to testify that it is the patch that she took around the world.
Amelia Rose stands by the door of the
room Amelia Mary used to stay in when
she came to Oakland Airport. 

 To celebrate her arrival on July 11, 2014, senior members of Squadron 188 lined up at the ramp of Kaiser Jet Center, holding flags of the 14 countries where she landed during her voyage.  Press and TV cameras were there to record this historic event.  Amelia Rose Earhart established a new record, being the youngest woman (31 years old) to fly around the world in a single engine aircraft.

Ms. Earhart's mother, Debborah Dale, was there to greet her daughter upon arrival.  Her father, Glen Earhart, was also waiting to embrace his daughter after her historic accomplishment.

Amelia Rose Earhart in front of the wall showing many of
the awards received by Sq. 188 in the last few years.
Moreover, a gentleman by the name of Elwood Ballard was there, both at her departure and arrival.  The reason Mr. Ballard wanted to be there was that as a young boy, his mom took him and his sibling to the Oakland Airport on May 20, 1937 to see Amelia Mary Earhart depart for her trip around the world.  He wanted to see history repeat itself, this time in a more positive and happy way.

Amelia Rose Earhart and Lt Col Tinnirello inside
the historic room.

After all the TV interviews, Amelia Rose Earhart went to visit Squadron 188 Headquarters. That building, in the 1900s, was the first hotel at any United States airport. It was also the place where Amelia Mary Earhart used to stay before starting the several record braking flights out of Oakland.  At the arrival of Amelia Rose, the members of Squadron 188 had formed an arch with the 14 flags of the countries she landed.

Amelia Rose Earhart holds one of the two
Squardon 188 patches she took around the world.
Squadron 188 Commander, Maj Noel Luneau, was there to greet Ms. Earhart and congratulate her on this accomplishment.  While there, she visited the Amelia Wall of Fame. Subsequently, Lt Col Tinnirello escorted her to the second floor and showed her the room where Amelia Mary used to stay prior to departing on her many record breaking flights.  It was a very emotional moment for everyone present.

Amelia Rose and copilot Shane signed autographs 
for the attendees at the Oakland Aerospace Museum.
Attendees at the Oakland Aerospace Museum signed 
Amelia's world map that she took along on her trip.

Senior members of Amelia Earhart, Senior Squadron 188 holding the 14 flags of all the countries Amelia Rose landed in during her trip.

While talking with Amelia Rose Earhart she mentioned that the most emotional part of the whole trip was to circle Howland Island. She said that she always respected her namesake and her bravery, but seeing this tiny island took it to a whole new level. When she arrived at Howland Island, seeing the small piece of land in the middle of nowhere, about one and a half mile long and one half mile wide, made a huge impression on her.  Well, she had GPS and all the modern equipment in the plane, so there was no problem to find it. A big contrast with Amelia Mary who had unreliable radio communication and a homing device.
Amelia Rose Earhart arrives at Oakland
Airport in the Pilatus PC-12 NG plane.

After departing Squadron 188, Ms. Earhart went to the Oakland Aerospace Museum and met with people, where she signed autographs and posed for picture taking with children and adults that came to congratulate her on this new historic record.

Mr. Ballard and his wife Floy (far right) give flowers to Dyanna
Jordan, copilot Shane's mom and Debborah Dale.

Ms. Amelia Rose Earhart also signed a photograph of her, dedicated to Civil Air Patrol, Squadron 188, and thanking the squadron for its participation in celebrating her return.

Members of Sq. 188 in front of their headquarters
making an arch with the flags of the countries 
Amelia Rose Earhart landed in during her trip.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mission Aircrew School in Fresno

By 2d Lt Matthew Gast and 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach

The Mission Aircrew School (MAS) is an intensive weekend of flying, intended to bring aspiring aircrew, i.e., trainees, up to their standard ratings either as Mission Pilots (MP) or Mission Observers (MO). In addition, almost all of the base staff and ground crew members had training opportunities.

Squadron 188 sent three MP trainees (Maj Steven DeFord, 2d Lt Eric Choate, and Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis), two MO trainees (2d Lt Hollerbach and 2d Lt Gast).  Our squadron was also represented by base staff volunteers: 1st Lt Jordan Hayes, completing his Air Operations Branch Director (AOBD) training as an Air Ops Group Supervisor, and Maj Maggie Wang, training as Mission Safety Officer (MSO).

To attend MAS for aircrew work, we needed to previously commit to participating in a weekend of ground school. All of our squadron’s aircrew trainees had attended that class in Oakland in June (click here for a description).   As the MAS was a Wing-wide event, another ground school had also been held in Southern California in May. This past weekend in Fresno, it was time to apply all that we learned on the ground.

The MAS commandeers a large fraction of the planes in the Wing, and you get to fly with the same crew (including an MP, an MO, and an experienced "mentor" pilot in the back) all weekend.

CAP 445 and other CAP aircraft ready for the next sortie.
(Photo by Capt Michelogiannakis)
2d Lt Gast and Capt Michelogiannakis met on Friday morning at the Oakland hangar, where they flew CAP 445 to KFAT, and then flew the same plane together all weekend before returning home.

Due to uncertainties about plane availability (maintenance work being completed on Friday morning), rather than accompanying 2d Lt Choate and Capt Joshua Edwards from Palo Alto, 2d Lt Hollerbach drove in air conditioned comfort with 1st Lt Hayes in the van, and then 2d Lt Hollerbach and Maj DeFord flew 451CP from KFAT.

2d Lt Choate and Capt Edwards flew together all weekend, along with their MO trainee, Capt Tom Sheahan.

A few of the cadets working hard to keep
the flight line safe!  (Photo by 2d Lt Hollerbach)
Thank you to all 3 aircrews’ mentor pilots for providing excellent training support and mentoring:  Capt Edwards, Capt Tom Barbre, and Capt Tom O’Connor.  Many other people made MAS come together so successfully, of course.  Among them - also a big thank you to the cadets working the flight line.

All of the aircrews were assigned a sortie on Friday afternoon, two sorties on Saturday, and a fourth and final sortie on Sunday morning, before heading home. Collectively, the sorties included parallel searches, contour searches, ELT searches, creeping line searches, and point (expanding square) searches.  Some planes had G1000 capabilities, others had round dial with GX55.  Since the planes we fly most often here are G1000, our crews all were placed in G1000 planes.

As in real life, several aircrews experienced equipment problems.  2d Lt Hollerbach and Maj DeFord had radio communications problems to overcome.  In the first instance, we had to switch aircraft.  In the second instance, we worked with another aircraft in the air, in order to effectively communicate with the base. Real world training!

To quote Capt Edwards, MAS is “a hot and sweaty affair” – with temperatures well over 100 deg F each day, density altitude – not to mention aircrew performance – needed to be considered carefully.  On Saturday afternoon, 2d Lt Hollerbach and Maj DeFord’s crew was thankful to return after a successful sortie, bouncing around in hot and turbulent air during a contour search.

2d Lt Gast was able to practice communications with the ground team during their ELT search. They enjoyed good practice using the Becker (Rho-Theta), and dusted off the aircrew text to make sure they read ground-to-air signals correctly.

The ground team practiced ground-to-air signaling with a mirror (which works surprisingly well), and found and silenced the beacon.  For 2d Lt Gast, seeing the CAP vans move at his command was the most rewarding mission he flew.

Contour searches were challenging for the MPs.  2d Lt Gast’s grid had a maximum elevation of around 5500 feet, so we boxed the grid at 6500 feet, where it was substantially cooler than ground level.  Unfortunately, the hills in 2d Lt Hollerbach’s search were at much lower elevation, so our contour step-down had to be flattened out to 100-200 ft – but for training purposes, we still got the idea!

Maj DeFord (Photo by 2d Lt Hollerbach)
Capt Barbre (Photo by 2d Lt Hollerbach)

Contour searching is a lot like what 2d Lt Gast does in a glider, but in reverse.  In a glider, you release from tow and fly close to terrain to get the lift up to the top of the ridge, so you climb up.  In a contour search, you make passes off the side of the terrain and go lower, so the altimeter spins the wrong way.  Even though the day was calm at altitude, there was light turbulence off the mountains.  2d Lt Gast was able to talk about the terrain and what was likely kicking off thermals and making the airspeed indicator dance.  His glider flying made this just another day in the air, and Capt Michelogiannakis was such a precise pilot that it was no big deal.

Another interesting sortie was the flight home.  A pilot in distress landed at Crow’s Landing, an old NASA training field that's been closed but is still usable.  Capt Edwards flying CAP 448 relayed messages to and from the plane for Norcal.  2d Lt Gast and Capt Michelogiannakis heard the drama and were ready to head north if needed because they’d been given too much fuel before departing Fresno.  2d Lt Hollerbach heard about the events afterward – and found them a little disconcerting, as she had previously flown the plane we believe was involved in this emergency. Fortunately, the plane landed safely.

Two different TV stations came to interview people at the MAS, so the event also served to help the public understand the important community services that CAP provides.

MAS was a great success!  2d Lt Choate, Maj DeFord, and Capt Michelogiannakis are now working hard on preparing for their Form 91s, to complete their MP standard ratings.  In the meantime, 1st Lt Hayes earned his standard AOBD rating, and 2d Lt Gast and 2d Lt Hollerbach are now fully qualified standard MOs.  Calling all MPs – we are both standing by to act as your Mission Observers in any upcoming missions!

Group 2 was well represented at MAS! From left to right: Maj Wang, 2d Lt Choate, 1st Lt David Hartman, 2d Lt Hollerbach, 2d Lt Gast, 1st Lt John Heldt, 1st Lt Hayes, Maj DeFord, Capt Michelogiannakis, Capt Edwards. (Photo provided by 2d Lt Gast)