Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mission Aircrew School in Bakersfield, July 2018

This post is based on press releases written by Capt Louie Rivas, Mission Aircrew School PIO-T

Bakersfield, California - Civil Air Patrol’s California Wing is conducting its Mission Aircrew School at Meadows Field, Bakersfield, California on July 27-29, 2018.

This is the Wing’s largest aviation exercise offered annually, and we expect 18 aircraft and 90 members from Northern and Southern California to participate. In order to maintain the highest level of proficiency mission pilots (MPs) and mission observer (MO) trainees use this training opportunity to meet rigorous training requirements to qualify in their positions and to be ready to answer the call in the event of an emergency, such as a search for an overdue aircraft, or providing photographs to state and local authorities of the damage caused by natural disasters such as wildfires. Additionally, base staff and ground team members will use this exercise to hone their emergency services skills and obtain further training.

On the first day of the exercise, there were 13 aircraft launched and supported by 4 ground teams comprised of cadets and senior CAP members. The aircrews and ground teams were tasked with simulating a search for an overdue aircraft.

Flight line at Mission Aircrew School, Bakersfield.

Aircrews practiced flying search techniques that included air to ground coordination with ground team members. The ground teams searched for emergency locator beacons, and many of them spent Friday and Saturday nights in the field. Search and rescue efforts demand careful coordination with the base staff as well. This exercise provides base staff with opportunities to hone their skills and improve their rescue coordination skills.

Aircrew briefing.

Accomplishments by all members of aircrews, ground teams and base staff included reassigning the aircrews and ground teams to new practice areas (“grids”) to search for a practice beacon hidden within those grids. Ground teams are comprised of cadets and senior members who are specially trained to search for missing aircraft, or lost persons.

Comms room. 
Lt Col Kevin Cummings, Air Force liaison to the Civil Air Patrol, spent the day observing the operations and flew in the back seat of one of the aircraft so he could observe the aircrew perform their search. They flew to one of the practice grids and found the ELT.  The Colonel was quoted as saying “the mission aircrew school is a model for CAP.”

Two television stations visited the event. Click here for an interview by a local ABC affiliate.
And click here for a news segment from a local CBS affiliate; it has actual footage of the activity at the base.

Participating from Squadron 188 were:
  • Capt Hayes – GBD (Ground Branch Director) 
  • Capt Rivas – PIO (Public Information Officer) Trainee
  • 1st Lt Choate - MP Mentor (Mission Pilot Mentor) 
  • 2d Lt Roudnev - GTM/UDF (Ground Team Member / Urban Direction Finder) 
  • 2d Lt Vaibhav - MP Trainee 
  • 2d Lt Mello - MP Trainee
  • SM Ferland - MP Trainee
Update**** Final stats from the Mission Aircrew School included:

This year was one of the largest aircrew schools ever and certainly the largest ground contingent. The ground teams proved extremely useful during this event, having located both a missing UDF team and a missing CAP aircraft (both simulated).  The incredible staff accomplished the following:

  • 98 personnel
  • 17 CAP aircraft
  • 115 air sorties
  • 15 corporate vehicles
  • 46 ground sorties
  • 13 new MPs
  • 13 new MOs

Thank you to everyone for your hard work and congratulations on a very successful training event!

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