Friday, October 31, 2014

California Wing Conference, Sacramento CA - October 10-12

By Lt Col Juan Tinnirello, CAP

It was a great conference with plenty of different training classes for all the attendees. I was there Saturday, October 11, and managed to attend three different classes: Finance, PAO and Membership Retaining.  All of them were very informative and gave me new ideas on how to improve on these areas.

Members of Squadron 188 receiving the Unit Citation Award. 
The evening banquet was the culminations of the event with many different awards and recognition for outstanding jobs done.

Amelia Earhart, Senior Squadron 188 was recognized for the excellent work done from July 2013 to June 2014, nationwide.  That recognition earned the squadron a National Citation with the big ribbon to be added to the squadron flag.

Col Stokes and Mr Tim Cassell

The Wing Commander Col Stokes mentioned all the Wing achievements and how the Wing performed during this last year.

The other special speaker was Mr. Tim Cassell, the 66 year old pilot that survived his 1966 Piper Cherokee crash landing in a remote area of the Sierra Nevada, around 10,000 feet altitude.  He departed Reid-Hillview on September 16, 2014 around 10:00 AM to fly to Death Valley National Park. This was supposed to be another routine flight for him, one that he did every other week, to check on his vacation property that needed work on the electric generator.

He described all the details of his ordeal that culminated with a Save for CAP personnel. Among them were three members of Squadron 188 that flew that night in support of the CAP aircraft that located the ELT signal, recording the coordinates, but unable to see the wreck because it was night time, about 1:00 AM.

Mr. Cassell commented that when he heard the plane circle above, he thought “only Civil Air Patrol will be crazy enough to fly here at this time of the night”.  Unfortunately, he said, “the plane left after a few turns.  I hoped they would have stayed a bit longer”.  He had a very rough night with temperatures reaching below freezing.  Next morning, another CAP plane came and started to circle again.  This time he managed, with a lot of effort to overcome his injuries, to come out of the fuselage and wave to the plane above.  They circled several times and waved back to him.  That assured him that he would not spend another night there.  The plane left and he sat there wishing the plane would have stayed longer.   Hours later he heard voices and saw people approaching to help him.  He realized that he was saved.

He personally thanked and shook hands with everyone involved in the mission, full of gratitude for the effort to find him and save his life.

Mr Cassell thanking CAP members involved in his save.
It was a very emotional moment for all the people present to see him, still with a patch on his nose (it was broken in the crash) and not wearing shoes but medical boots in both feet because of injuries sustained in the crash. However, he was wearing a tuxedo and looked very sharp.  His wife Marsha was with him at the banquet, very happy to have her husband with her.

Squadron 188 members at the banquet.

1st Lt Hayes, Capt Rivas, 2d Lt Gast
Maj Johnson/C, Maj Johnson/K, Capt Perreira 
Many members of Squadron 188 attended the conference and we were very happy for all the awards the squadron and several members received. Members present included:
  • Lt Col Juan Tinnirello
  • Maj Noel Luneau
  • Maj Kathy Johnson
  • Maj Chris Johnson
  • Maj Jeff Ironfield
  • Maj Steven DeFord
  • Capt Luis Rivas
  • Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis 
  • Capt Doug Ramsey
  • Capt Doug Perreira
  • 1st Lt Jordan Hayes
  • 1st Lt John Stevulak
  • 1st Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez
  • 2d Lt Eric Choate
  • 2d Lt Matthew Gast

Capt Perreira

Members of Squadron 188 and friends at lunch.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A very busy day at Byron Airport in East Contra Costa County

By Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello, CAP                             Photos by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello

 The inside of the trailer with the fuselage,
wings and horizontal stabilizer, secured
in a perfect way to avoid any damage.
Saturday, October 4th, 2014, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members were very busy at Contra Costa County’s Byron Airport assembling a Super Blanik glider, recently received from the United States Air Force (USAF).  The USAF Academy replaced the last 12 of them with new updated models to teach gliding to the USAF cadets.  All 12 of them were donated to CAP with 10 distributed among several Wings (States) and the other two kept for spare parts.  California Wing received one of these and after some repairs done in Minden, Nevada, it was transported to the Byron Airport in East Contra Costa County by Maj Robert Semans.  It came in a nice large glider trailer, completely secured to it with very sophisticated clamps, cradles and cushioning material to prevent any damage during transportation.  

Under Maj Semans’ direction, CAP members 2d Lt Matthew Gast, 2d Lt John Radazzo and 2d Lt Van Henson managed to assemble the glider in about two hours of work. This time included all the necessary inspections, including double-checking all the assembly points, to ensure a completely safe and airworthy condition.  Maj Semans mentioned that it took less time than expected.
The fuselage already removed from the trailer.
The right wing is already attached. Now they are working
on left wing

CAP, under its Aerospace Education program, uses gliders to introduce cadets to flying.  These Orientation Rides (O-Rides) will take place in two locations in California.  In Los Alamitos, Southern California, there are two gliders that have been operational for many years. The local one at Byron will serve cadets from Northern California, and it will start regular operation within a couple of weeks.  

Cadets can receive 5 different O-Rides both in gliders and in single engine aircraft to receive an introduction to flying. Many cadets continue their flight training, and some have gone on to become USAF transport and fighter pilots.

Besides the hard work, it was a fun day with great fellowship and a good learning experience.

The horizontal stabilizer is being secured in place.

Finally is all assembled together and tied down, ready for a flight.