Last Thursday night Lt. Col. Tom McGrath presided at our regular squadron meeting. Lt. Col. Terry Pricer presented a safety brief on seasonal topics. McGrath presented an aerospace education video covering the basic aerodynamics concepts of lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Here is that video (approximately 30 minutes) if you missed the meeting, or are interested:
A number of new senior attendees were introduced and McGrath convened a question and answer session following the training presentations to answer any questions prospective members might have about CAP.
Our cadets then formed for a promotion and awards ceremony presided over by Capt. Joseph Murphy.
On July 15, a group of cadets from Mount Vernon Composite Squadron conducted a rocketry event that turned out to be a great learning experience for all.
Under the leadership of 1st Lt. Timothy Buchanan who organized the event, Capt. Jimmy Kavanagh, the deputy commander for cadets, six cadets and the squadron chaplain, the group enjoyed a few hours of fun and aerospace education focused on rockets.
It is noteworthy that C/MSgt Heros Avedissian’s two stage rocket was the only two stage rocket that was launched and recovered successfully. It was carrying a payload consisting of a small Oscar trophy inside that was launched skyward and landed successfully. The team appreciated the experience and learned a great deal, so much so that the cadets are planning on having another rocketry event in September. They expect it to be even better organized and include more cadets. [Update: the next planned rocketry outing is expected to be November 4, 2017.]
CAP’s Model Rocketry program is an achievement program for cadets interested in the science, technology, and flight of model rockets. The program begins with simple alternative-power models and progressively challenges cadets to construct more advanced models in three stages.
The Redstone Stage reviews the history of rocketry and its great pioneers, to include Robert Goddard and Werhner Von Braun.
The Titan Stage details the physical laws which govern objects on the Earth, in the air and in space above us.
The Saturn Stage presents information on trigonometry for altitude tracking, and physics of impulse and thrust associated with solid rocket engines.
Cadets who complete the written and performance requirements for each of the 3 stages, as certified by their unit commander, will be awarded the Cadet Model Rocketry Badge.
If you’re new to CAP, or if you’re just watching from the sidelines, and you’ve never heard of Col. Mary Feik, watch this and be inspired.
This video is provided by Lt. Col. Mike Cramer, Civil Air Patrol, Colorado Springs Cadet Squadron, Group 3, Colorado Wing, Rocky Mountain Region. Many thanks to the Colorado Wing for putting this video in the public domain. From its YouTube location, the following text is provided:
“Mary S. Feik is an aviation engineer, master mechanic, pilot, instructor and aircraft restorer. She has received many awards and honors in her storied career and is a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol.
Col. Mary Feik is a national treasure who has the biggest heart we know. She is 100 percent devoted to CAP and every cadet who has worn and continues to wear the uniform. She has the solid gold Presidential pin to prove it! Every year she tries to visit as many cadets as she can to share her amazing story. For those who have not had the honor and privilege to meet her and receive a personally autographed Feik achievement certificate, this video is the next best thing. She’ll tell you to follow her dad’s advice, ‘Aim high and follow your dreams … because it worked for me!’
Of course, this movie would not have been possible without the hundreds of hours volunteered by our own CAP senior member and movie producer, Ed Flanagan. Ed is the owner and producer of the Manitou Motion Picture Co. in Colorado Springs. He is a first-class guy who delivered a first-class movie!”
Last Thursday’s aerospace education segment, presented by Lt. Col. Ray Greene, covered a Vietnam War era operation in southeast Asia called Igloo White. His presentation was delivered not simply from the perspective of a military aviation history buff, but through that of a participant. Lt. Col. Greene flew in this operation personally. A highly decorated F-4 pilot, Greene’s take on the operation was delivered with his usual wry wit and commentary, possible only from someone who has “been there.”
Using the cover of darkness, dense jungle and bad weather, North Vietnamese trucks carried critical supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail nearly undetected. Since large numbers of American ground troops were not permitted into neutral Laos to stop the trucks, the U.S. Air Force deployed a system of electronic equipment to thwart the enemy’s cover and alert U.S. commanders. This highly-classified electronic system was known as Igloo White.
The system became operational in late 1967, and it consisted of three elements: sensors dropped by aircraft along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, an orbiting EC-121B “Batcat” or the QU-22B aircraft that picked up and relayed signals from the sensors, and the Infiltration Surveillance Center (ISC), which received the data. Operated by Task Force Alpha at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base (NKP RTAFB), the ISC interpreted the sensor data and passed target information to combat commanders, who sent attack aircraft to the target.
Using a maps, photos and video, Greene described the formations used to drop sensors, aerial refueling, and how follow-on missions were flown using the gathered acoustic data. His description of night air-to-air refueling during inclement weather was hair raising.
Decades later, in April of 2012, this seasoned aviator became a qualified CAP pilot as a senior member of our squadron. As an Aerospace Education officer, Greene brings a robust background of experiences and lessons learned to his fellow senior members and the squadron’s cadets. One of many unsung heroes among our membership, Greene continues a tradition of service to his community and country.
For more information on Igloo White, view the following period videos, approximately two minutes long and 15 minutes long, respectively. For more from Lt. Col. Greene, join us in Mount Vernon Composite Squadron!
Cadet Major Thomas Murphy has been in CAP for three years. It will be four this October. He decided that he wanted to pursue his airman’s certificate after returning home from Northeast Region (NER) flight academy and soloing. He achieved his goal last month, on June 12th to be exact: FAA Private Pilot Certificate.
According to Murphy, “It took around 8 months to finish up my [certificate.] It took a total of around 55-60 flight hours which is about 30-40 flights.” He finished up with a total of 64 flight hours according to his Flight Instructor, and also completed his CAP Form 5. The requirements for the CAP Form 5 can be found in CAPR 60-1.
When asked what challenged him most as he attempted to accomplish this significant personal milestone, he replied, “The most difficult part of getting my certificate was finding time to dedicate toward studying for my flying and preparing ahead. Also balancing my flight training with my school work I found difficult.”
Murphy trained with two different instructors at the NER flight academy. Upon returning home, he received the rest of his flight instruction from Lieutenant Colonel Peter Hantelman of the National Capital Wing. “The easiest part was once I was up in the air with Lt. Col. Hantelman, manipulating the controls and physically getting more acquainted with how the plane feels and learning how to actually take control of the plane.” His father pinned his CAP Pilot wings on him. Although the original plan was for Murphy to take his dad for a short flight as his first passenger, the weather and Form 5 requirements kept this from happening. Of course all pilots know that no matter how much planning goes into any flight evolution, flexibility is key! His father is 1st Lt. Joe Murphy, a senior MVCS member, and the leader of the squadron’s cadets.
Murphy advises those considering pursuit of an airman’s certificate, sometimes referred to incorrectly as a “pilot’s license”, that, “if you are really interested in pursuing your certificate, realize it will require time, a dedicated flight instructor (senior member), money, and lastly parental support. If it really is your dream to obtain your [certificate] then go for it,” but Murphy went on to say that what you get out of your training is directly proportional to the effort you put into it.
He reemphasized the level of effort it took to achieve this goal, “When people who are non-pilots hear you got your certificate, I really don’t think the average person understands the amount of training and preparation that is required… After receiving all of my training for my [certificate], I realized…that I understand little of aviation [relative] to some of the pilots who have been flying for many years. I also truly respect the experience and knowledge of a regular commercial pilot, and what it took to bring them to where they are, after going through my own training just for my [private pilot certificate.]”
[Updated March 5, 2015] At MVCS’s meeting last Thursday night, in addition to an action-packed evening of safety training, awards and promotions, squadron cadets and senior members were treated to a special presentation.
Samer Al Rawi flew the Mirage F-1 as a pilot with the Iraqi Air Force. Mr. Al Rawi presented a simulated briefing for an air combat maneuvers training flight. His son Mustafa served as a “simulated wing man” as he used training aids to explain the maneuvers that would be conducted on the mission.
Using pictures from his career as a pilot, he exposed the cadets and senior members not only to a small slice of life as a Mirage pilot, but to how he was sent to France for training. It was not lost on the audience that Mr. Al Rawi was speaking a third language from his native tongue, having to study to fly the Mirage in French, and now giving a presentation in English.
As part of his presentation, Al Rawi discussed an in-flight mishap that occurred which led to the jettison of his aircraft’s canopy during an air combat maneuvers training flight. Sustaining an injury which left him flying with one eye, he was also challenged with hydraulic failure to the aircraft’s braking system. Normally, with brake failure, procedures called for the use of a net barrier to arrest the jet’s landing. However, with no canopy, this would endanger the pilot and recovery would be limited to parking brake use. As if these challenges were not enough, following an “uneventful landing,” when ground personnel attempted to insert the safety pin into the ejection seat to permit pilot egress from the cockpit with no risk of activating the lower ejection seat handle, the seat had moved causing a misalignment in the holes and preventing safety pin insertion. Clearing ground personnel from the area, Al Rawi was able to carefully and safely egress without incident.
The MVCS commander, Lt. Col. Lou Volchansky, presented a NATCAP wing patch as thank you memento to Mr. Al Rawi for sharing his presentation with the squadron.
On November 3rd and 4th, cadets from squadrons in the National Capital Wing traveled to two of NASA’s key locations on the east coast – Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. and the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore.
The cadets first toured the visitor center at Goddard. They viewed exhibits describing many of NASA’s space missions and images of distant galaxies.
“I enjoyed seeing the pictures from the Hubble space telescope,” said Cadet 1st Lt. Nicholas Johnson.
The cadets divided into teams for a scavenger hunt involving many of the exhibits in the visitor center. This activity was as much about scientific education as it was developing collaborative skills.
“I enjoyed learning on the scavenger hunt with my team, and getting to know my friends better,” said Cadet TSgt. Alexander Johnson.
Outside the visitor center, there was much activity as local young people gathered to launch their own model rockets. These launches are open to the public on the first Saturday of every month, and the cadets were able to watch them that day.
When asked about the rocket launches, Cadet Airman Nicole Lavin said, “I thought it was interesting to see the model rockets launch and reach such heights.”
Following their visit to Goddard, the cadets traveled to Wallops Island, Va. and spent the night. The first order of business the next morning was a visit to the sounding rocket operations facility. NASA engineers were on hand to describe how the rockets and their payloads were built, tested and launched.
The cadets next visited the balloon payload facility. NASA launches balloons from sites around the world loaded with research equipment to gather data for government and university scientists. Some of the super pressure balloons reach heights above 100,000 feet and can stay aloft for more than a month.
“I thought it was cool that the balloons could carry 6000 pounds…the same as three cars,” said Cadet Airman Keilie Blood.
Cadet Airman Carol Oordt said her favorite part was the balloons, because she “did not realize that the balloons were used for weather and science studies.”
A highlight of the visit was a tour of mission control. The cadets were able to sit at the same computer consoles as NASA engineers. The large screens projected images of rocket launch pads being prepared for their next mission. A NASA engineer described the sequence of events on launch day and the roles of each member of the team.
“I really enjoyed going to Mission Control because you only see that in movies and we got to see that in person,” said Cadet 2nd Lt. Hunter Harlow.
The two-day trip allowed the cadets to see how NASA takes science and puts it into practice, and even into space. The roles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in bringing NASA’s vision to reality were quite clear. In summary, Cadet Airman Anith Muthalaly remarked, “[NASA] advanced technology makes me appreciate STEM more.”
Twenty years ago this month, the Battle of Mogadishu ensued between U.S. military forces and Somali militiamen aligned with Mohammed Farrah Adid. The account of that battle is captured in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down”.
Retired Army Col Tom Matthews was there those days, 3 and 4 October, 1993. Mostly, he was overhead in one of the command and control helicopters and witnessed many of the major events.
Matthews visited the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol recently to speak to cadets and volunteer officers about his experience.
“The average American did not know at the time that we were basically at war in Somalia,” said Matthews. “Mr Adid had gone underground. Finding one person on a city of a million people is an interesting challenge.”
U.S. Special Forces troops entered the city that day to capture a number of Adid’s lieutenants in an effort to draw out Adid.
As is recounted in the book and movie, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down on the first day of fighting.
“We had already conducted 6 missions prior to the 3rd of October. We had been shot at; nobody killed; only a few injured; very few rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs),” explained Matthews. “But on that day, about 200 RPGs were shot at us.”
The initial rescue operation of the downed crew members was intended to be swift, but what followed was a firefight that lasted through the night. As a result, 18 U.S. servicemen killed, 80 wounded and one captured.
Matthews explains, “The book is the most accurate account of the battle. However, the majority of Americans that recall what happened that day are mainly drawing from the events depicted in the movie. “
In spite of the aftermath Matthews maintains, “We accomplished the mission. We fought, we won that battle, and we recovered our wounded.”
As he wrapped up his presentation, Matthews encouraged the cadets, “It’s important to know your emergency procedures; always take the time to practice them. And, you should talk to others about their experiences, learn from their mistakes, so you don’t make the same mistakes.”
Many cadets walked away with a new appreciation of the heroes that were a part of that battle.
“It was a great honor for our squadron to host Mr. Matthews. His tale of heroism left a lasting impression on the cadets in our squadron and serves as a source of inspiration for all of us,” said Cadet 1st Lt. James Hildebrand.
Mr. Matthews retired in 2001 after 28 years of military service. He is currently the Director of Special Operations Intelligence Integration in the office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Defense Warfighter Support.
The online issue features a superb video about the glider academy conducted by Southeast Region-Georgia Wing-Group III. You’ll want to read the entire article, but check out the video below for a little inspiration! (Note: the volume may be muted at first. Be sure to turn up the sound for complete enjoyment.)