Sunday, January 18, 2015

Comm Exercises, Lost on the Moon, and What Bernoulli Has to Say About Airfoils

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos by 1st Lt Pat Bitz, Lt Col Juan Tinnirello, and 2d Lt Hollerbach

Comm Exercises 

2d Lt Gast and Lt Col Tinnirello,
photo by 2d Lt Hollerbach
Lt Col Juan Tinnirello, 2d Lt Matthew Gast, and 2d Lt Hollerbach deployed the HF radio for one of the evening’s comm exercises, in which we checked into the national HF net and tested our ability to communicate with radio operators far away.  With the atmospheric conditions at the time, the conclusion was – it was possible, with some difficulty.  After a number of attempts, Lt Col Tinnirello, Lt Gast, Maj Steven DeFord, and Lt Hollerbach managed to get one of us “checked in” to the net.

Lt Col Tinnirello, photo by
2d Lt Hollerbach

Subsequently, we also participated in a more local NorCal VHF net and had better luck, or at least clearer communications.  For me, as a fairly inexperienced Mission Radio Operator (MRO), it was great practice to review the appropriate communications techniques and net phraseology, which differs somewhat from how pilots are used to communicating on the radio; to get a real-life example of how difficult it can be to communicate, especially with this many radio operators checking in; and generally to see what did and did not work, under the existing conditions (atmospheric conditions, radio frequencies used, number of people participating, local setup, etc.).  We had people checking in both from radios at fixed locations and mobile units.

Aerospace Education Excellence Class #3

This week, we also had the 3rd in a series of 6 Aerospace Education Excellence (AEX) classes, led by 1st Lt Pat Bitz.  This week’s class consisted of two parts:

Lost on the Moon – NASA’s Problem Solving Scenario

In this exercise, we followed NASA’s published problem solving scenario, and compared our answers with those provided by NASA.  The scenario is as follows:

Squadron members and guests contemplating survival on the moon,
photo by 1st Lt Bitz
You are a member of a space crew originally scheduled to rendezvous with a mothership on the lighted surface of the moon. However, your ship was forced to land at a spot some 200 miles from the rendezvous point. During the landing, much of the equipment aboard was damaged.  Since survival depends on reaching the mothership, the most critical items available needed to be chosen for the 200-mile trip.  NASA provided a list of 15 items left intact and undamaged after the landing.   Our task was to rank order the items in terms of their importance in reaching the Command Module – which was going to depart from the rendezvous point in 48 hours, with or without us.  None of the 15 items seemed to enable long-term survival, so our planning was focused entirely on meeting the mothership, one way or another.

Some of us immediately overthought the problem, wondering if these were truly the ONLY 15 items we were allowed to plan on.  In other words, we had NOTHING else?  As in… not even space suits? Clothes?  Anything?  Where to draw the line in planning?  As I said, some of us (well, at least one of us) overthought the scenario.

As recommended by NASA, some of the top items on the priority list included:
  • Two 100-pound tanks of oxygen (how many people in our crew?  I do not know… was this enough for all of us for 48 hours?)
  • Stellar map of the moon’s constellations
  • 5 gallons of water
The main objective of the exercise was to develop situational awareness, while focusing in on the critical timeline (48 hours, since our chances of survival dropped off rather dramatically after that), the resources available (the 15 items plus whatever else we might have had on our bodies, as well as our own resourcefulness).  A technical understanding of our environment also helped – what do we know about the moon?  Maybe not all of us were experts on the environment found on the moon, but if we were actually going there, we should be – would a box of matches be useful on the moon?  What about a magnetic compass?  Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter? Why or why not, given the environment, the objectives, and the timeline?

2nd Lt Eric Choate, photo by
1st Lt Bitz
For most of us, it’s unlikely we’ll be crash-landing on the moon any time soon.  However, the exercise does serve to remind us that, before flying (air crew!) or going out in the field (ground teams!), it behooves us to think through the environment we’ll be flying over or driving through, in case we need to make an unexpected stop there and have to survive.  What resources would we want to have available there, to help our chances of survival?

Bernoulli’s Principle

The second part of the class consisted of a demonstration of Bernoulli’s principle.  Pilots are all taught Bernoulli’s principle, because of its role in generating lift for the airplane.  Do you remember where it comes from and how it works?

The goal of the exercise was to create an airfoil and to make it fly with a wind applied to it, and to understand how this works.

Lt Col Tinnirello, photo by
1st Lt Bitz
Bernoulli, who was an 18th century scientist and mathematician, applied the principle of conversation of energy to the case of an ideal fluid in steady flow.  Real life isn’t “ideal” but let’s pretend for a moment.  When a fluid (including air) increases in velocity, its pressure decreases.  The increase in velocity represents an increase in kinetic energy (and we’re going to assume there’s no change in potential energy).  To conserve total energy, which is what Bernoulli’s famous equation is about (I am resisting the temptation to print an equation in this blog), it must lose pressure.

Capt Doug Ramsey, prior to takeoff,
photo by Lt Col Tinnirello

Capt Ramsey, upon successful takeoff,
photo by Lt Col Tinnirello
Airfoils, such as those of interest to pilots, provide one example of the core principle: Because of the cross-sectional shape of a wing, air moves over the airfoil faster (lower pressure) and moves under the wing more slowly (higher pressure). The difference in pressure causes the wing to rise toward the area of lower pressure.  If the air is flowing fast enough and the curvature of the wing creates enough of a difference in airspeed (i.e., pressure) above and below the wing, the wing will fly (assuming a few other conditions are true…).

In class, we made a “wing” out of a piece of file folder, attaching it to the edge of a table, and rolling it so that it had the shape (cross-section) of a tear drop. Pointing a hair dryer toward the leading edge of the wing created airflow over the wing, and resulted in the wing lifting off the table.

Stay tuned for the 4th AEX class, which we expect will be scheduled some time in February.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

All Hands Meeting & Stargazing - January 2015

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, photos courtesy of Lt Col Juan Tinnirello and 1st Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez

The first All Hands meeting of 2015 was kicked off with a pledge of allegiance, led by Lt Col Juan Tinnirello.

Squadron 188 members and guests at the start of the all hands meeting (photo by Lt Col Tinnirello)

Maj Mark Fridell (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)
New Member
A warm welcome to Maj Mark Fridell, who is transferring from Squadron 18.  Maj Fridell is an Air Force veteran, flies for the airlines, and joined CAP in 2007.  He is the Group 2 Aerospace Education (AE) Officer, as well as Director of AE for the Wing.

Wing Announcements
Proficiency flight funds are available for Mission Pilots (MP).  Contact Capt Paul Kubiak.

Group 2 Commander Goals for 2015
  1. The Group 2 Commander has set the following goals for the current year: 
  2. Increase recruiting & retention
  3. Encourage cadet participation in Emergency Services (ES)
  4. Color guard/drill team formation – currently, Sq 18 is the only squadron to represent Group 2 in color guard competitions
  5. Present the AE curriculum to schools to aid in STEM education
  6. Host more local courses, including SLS/CLC, BCS/ATS, NCOS

ES Ratings, Specialty Tracks & Awards
Congratulations to the following members, who completed and/or renewed ES ratings:
Capt Lou Rivas and 1st Lt Stevulak (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)
  • Maj Chris Johnson completed his GTM3 (Ground Team 3) rating
  • 1st Lt John Stevulak completed his initial Form 5
  • Maj Steven DeFord renewed his CUL rating (Communications Unit Leader)
  • Maj DeFord and 1st Lt Jordan Hayes are now FROs (Flight Release Officer)
  • Maj Noel Luneau completed his Master rating in Administration – bringing us to 5 current Master ratings in the squadron
  • 2d Lt Matthew Gast: earned a Find Ribbon in November
  • 2d Lt Wilson: earned a 2 yr Red Ribbon
  • SM Mike Smith: earned the Yeager Award, bringing the squadron to 88% completion.  That leaves 2 active members who have yet to complete this important AE training – you know who you are! 

Capt Rivas and SM Smith (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)
Capt Rivas and Lt Gast (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)

Capt Rivas and Lt Wilson (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)

Squadron Recap: Glider Program
Lt Gast and Lt Wilson reported that Squadron 188 has flown all of the Wing’s glider o-rides since the beginning of this fiscal year. Every 5th weekend will be reserved for proficiency flying, and several of our senior members have started glider training. The next senior weekend will be held on Jan 31/Feb 1 – so mark your calendars and come on out to Byron.  Please contact Lt Gast or Lt Wilson for more information.

AE Minute
1st Lt Gabriel Fletcher-Hernandez spent Thanksgiving weekend inside the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii and came back with an amazing time-lapse video.  From Lt Fletcher-Hernandez’ notes:

It is a brisk 0 degrees outside. I can see Maui, the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy M31, and most of the Big Island of Hawaii. The world’s two largest observatories, Kecks 1 and 2, are a couple hundred meters away, and I will be visiting the astronomers there shortly. The NASA scientists I am working with here at the IRTF are currently helping a researcher use the telescope remotely.
The NASA IRTF (photo by Lt Fletcher-Hernandez)

The astronomer using the telescope is in Indiana, relaxing at 3 feet above sea level, presumably with a cat on the lap and an espresso in hand; no longer do researchers have to even leave their homes if they have a broadband connection. Considering that many people have symptoms at the nearly 14,000 feet such as fainting, vomiting, and the ever so fun feeling like you are drunk and need an O2 tank, remote access has increased the productivity of the facilities on Mauna Kea, and freed up funding. When I take a shower in the dorms the water is 12 cents a gallon, for example, so keeping folks at home makes research more inviting for institutions and saves resources.

View from the NASA IRTF (photo by Lt Fletcher-Hernandez)

The NASA IRTF engineers troubleshoot equipment errors and point the telescope from the control room using the astronomers’ coordinates. The remote observer then takes a reading, and this goes on all night, as researchers around the world are queued up. The current user is looking at the Trojan Asteroids, getting mineral composition and other infrared data. Another astronomer I met working on the Caltech Submillimeter Array is using that radio telescope to try and look inside protostars in an anomalous star formation region called The Gold Belt. Using 270 GHz receivers she is looking inside the envelope (outer shell of the forming star) to gather data on the accretion disk inside; by using an unusual radio band, she is able to look through the hot gases obscuring the heart of the star. Also, this star field is outside the Milky Way, so the distances involved are staggering.

Night sky! (photo by Lt Fletcher-Hernandez)

Upcoming Events
Wing Comms Exercise – January 
There will be a Wing Comms Exercise on 17 January. For further information, please see Lt Gast.  In addition, there will be another national exercise in June. Information on the national exercise will be forthcoming.

Maj Steven DeFord (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)
ES Training – February 
Maj DeFord announced an ES ground school weekend on 7-8 February. This will include a gentle introduction to ES for both cadets and new senior members, including ground school for both Ground Team (GT) and UDF team tracks, as well as mission base staff tracks (Mission Radio Operator, MRO, and Mission Staff Assistant, MSA). Members that need to renew their ratings may also participate. Following the ground school, there will be a training exercise in Concord (late February).

The ground school is currently seeking additional instructors, so please contact Maj DeFord if you are interested.

CORE Training
1st Lt Alvaro Chavez is organizing CORE training at a future date to be determined.  We need at least 20 participants.  If you are interested, please see 1st Lt Chavez.

Safety Briefing: CAP’s Social Media Policy and Cyber Security 
2d Lt Hollerbach presented CAP’s social media policy and led a discussion on cyber security, with an emphasis on practical tips for members, specifically in the context of social media usage.

2d Lt Hollerbach (photo
by Lt Col Tinnirello)
Please remember to stay safe with your social media usage.  This includes things like reviewing (and not just accepting the default settings) the privacy settings of your account periodically, being careful whom you connect with on social media, and what personal information you share online.  Assume that, once posted, information is effectively public.

All CAP units are encouraged to have active social media accounts to help spread the word about the good work that CAP is doing at all levels throughout the country.   For questions about CAP social media policy details or safe social media usage, please ask your local squadron, Group 2, or CAWG Public Affairs Officers or your IT officers.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Congratulations to 1st Lt John Stevulak on passing his Form 5

By 2d Lt Karin Hollerbach, photo by Maj Jeff Ironfield

Congratulations to 1st Lt John Stevulak on his successful Form 5. Lt Stevulak is now Squadron 188’s latest pilot.

Thanks also to Capt Georgios Michelogiannakis, with whom Lt Stevulak trained, and to Maj Jeff Ironfield, who was the Form 5 check pilot.

According to Lt Stevulak:

Capt Michelogiannakis is a great instructor, who went through all aspects of the form 5 and reminded me often to close the cowl flaps during cruise. Both Capt Michelogiannakis and 1st Lt Gene Rugroden helped me improve my landings and boost my confidence.

The day of my scheduled check ride ended up being canceled due to a live search (another story…) and was scheduled a few weeks later. Maj Jeff Ironfield and I went through the Q&A portion a few nights before flying.

What a feeling to complete all the requirements. Now the challenge is to keep flying and prepare to be a Mission Pilot.

1st Lt John Stevulak following his successful Form 5