Monday, April 9, 2018

All Hands Meeting April 2018 - in the Dark (Sort of)!

By Capt Lou Rivas, photographs by 2d Lt Alexei Roudnev

Power outage at the squadron building, with one room lit up using the generator. 
This month’s All Hands Meeting was conducted a little differently than usual. The squadron building has been without electrical power for 2 weeks, and it might be several more before power is reestablished. A broken underground power cable is to blame. Despite the resulting inconvenience, this provided Squadron 188 with the opportunity to test its emergency preparedness. 
Ready to light up the meeting room after dark. 

The meeting was moved downstairs in front of the large windows in the main lobby with runway 28R as a backdrop. Members fired up the portable generator and plugged in floodlights. Some brought flashlights, and others wore their headlamps although that wasn’t needed.  The meeting began as usual with the typical announcements, but at one point the Commander paused the meeting so we could admire a 727 that filled the windows as it taxied by.

The Commander recapped last month’s events, which included support of Air Force training missions of intercepting slow-moving aircraft, and a Tsunami warning mission in Northern California.

Capt Hayes conducting the meeting downstairs.
The Tsunami warning mission is designed to alert coastal residents in advance of an oncoming tsunami. The aircraft are equipped with a very loud public address system mounted where the cargo door would normally be. The aircraft flies along the coast while broadcasting inland a prerecorded message announcing the pending arrival of the tsunami.
All hands meeting attendees. 

2d Lt Fogle (L), Maj Brown (C), Lt Col Glenn (R)
The meeting also included announcements of Red Service ribbons to members who have served 2 years; as well as new or renewed Emergency Service ratings earned by the members, including one that the Commander is most proud of. Squadron 188 now has 15 pilots (10% of the pilots in California Wing), and this number is expected to grow. 
Maj Fridell

Capt Rivas
Announcements also included upcoming training events, such as the Aerial Photography ground school (in June), and a Wing Led Exercise (WLE, in April).

The AP ground school is an introductory course that teaches the basics on how to use CAP issued cameras and to photograph targets from an airplane. AP requires additional skills and considerations when taking photos from an airplane flying at 90 knots.

The WLE is a major event for California CAP members, because it simulates a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake. The WLE exercise is an opportunity for base staff, aircrews, and ground teams from multiple California Wing groups to interact and test the entire CAP emergency services response and reaction to a catastrophic event.
SM Ferland

March turned out to be another active month for Squadron 188, and the different setting made for an especially memorable meeting.

SM Mello

Left to right: Maj Michelogiannakis, Lt Forenza,
1st Lt Kraus, 2d Lt Cambell, SM Richards

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tsunami Preparedness Exercise

By 1st Lt Karin Hollerbach

Tsunamis are a real danger for communities in low-lying coastal areas, including those in California. To help residents of these areas, CAP maintains readiness to provide information in the event of an imminent tsunami threat.

On the 28th of March, Groups 2 and 5 conducted a tsunami warning exercise, working together with a Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS).

In this exercise, two CAP aircraft flew along the Northern California Coast, at 1000 AGL, using the Airborne Public Address System (APAS) to continuously play a pre-recorded message, announcing the imminent (simulated) threat, urging residents to move to higher ground, and providing an official phone number for more information.  In addition, ground-based sirens were used in some locations to simulate the alert.

The exercise was considered a great success, and this year, our APAS was more audible than in past years.

The weather service and emergency response communities have appreciated the CAP broadcasts, and several people have reported looking forward to them as a highlight of the exercise. One person reported that they couldn’t see the airplane, but heard a voice coming from the clouds telling them to call the NWS phone number!

Since low-flying aircraft moving in and out of the coastal hills are unable to reliably reach the radio repeaters, and thus unable to speak to the temporary Incident Command Post (ICP) at Santa Rosa airport, a third aircraft was launched to provide hi-bird communications, orbiting at 13,500 ft and relaying messages between the low-flying aircraft and the ICP. Almost five hours later, we (hi-bird) were very ready to land.

Participating from Squadron 188 were:

  • Maj DeFord, Incident Commander
  • Capt Hayes, Mission Observer (hi-bird)
  • 1st Lt Hollerbach, Mission Pilot  (hi-bird) 

The Times Standard in Humboldt County had a nice article about the exercise, which can be found by clicking here.