Tuesday, May 7, 2019

First CAP meeting

Prior to filling out a membership application, prospective members are encouraged/required (don't know which, but it matters not) to attend two meetings. I attended my first last night. The meetings start at 19:00 hours, which is a little test in and of itself. Fortunately, I instantly recognized that as being equivalent to 7:00 Eastern Muggle Time. The meetings are held in a room located in Hangar 4 at Don Scott (KOSU) airport. If you don't know precisely where hangar 4 is, or where to go once inside the voluminous interior space, you are not alone. Well, you are now, but less than 24 hours ago I was in the same boat. The hangar wasn't hard to find, but it was festooned with doors - which to choose?

Easy - follow the guy wearing a CAP shirt - chances are that's where he's going.

Maj. Joe was already inside and dressed to the 9's in ho Air Force blues, ostensibly because he was getting his picture taken. He was preparing to lead the meeting, so we only talked briefly before I tried to find a place to sit in an inconspicuous area. Failing that, I ended up right up front. Was I the subject of eighteen pairs of inquisitive eyes? I have no idea, but it sure felt that way. The ages of the group appeared to run from late-30's to early 70's, all male. They chatted amongst themselves while I attempted to blend into the wall behind me.

The meeting started right on time. Not immediately, but soon thereafter, I was asked/ordered (don't know which, but it matters not) to stand up and introduce myself. I immediately cleared up any possible misunderstanding of my name (98% hear 'Campbell') by telling them that it's "Gamble, with a G" and following up with an early biographical factoid: "I was enlisted in the Air Force; they were afraid to make me an officer because at some point I might become a Major Gamble."

Someone, somewhere dropped a pin. Everyone heard it. How not to, given the utter silence? They either didn't get it, or the meetings were far more formal than I had anticipated. Or, and I credit this with being nearly impossible, they didn't think it was funny.

Tough room.

The meeting went on for two hours, and I was very happy to have done some preparatory research into what it is they actually do. Even so, a lot of it was inside baseball; I still paid rapt attention to whoever was speaking - I can't prove it, but periodic glances at Maj. Joe led me to believe that he was paying attention to whether or not I was paying attention. Most of it fleshed out many of the fundamentals of what I had learned from perusing the documents on their website, and some of it was brand new and very intriguing. There was a lot of talk about having mounts installed on the Cessna 182 to carry a Garmin Virb, which is sort of like a GoPro camera but with presumably better mission supporting features. That's not much of a stretch - the G1000 instrument panel includes Search & Rescue (SAR) functions that take the drudgery (and time) out of plotting search grids.

I'm very intrigued with this subject. There is a PowerPoint (oh, goody - thought I left that behind when I retired from Corp. America) at this link, if you're curious.

Towards the end of the meeting, a handful of achievement awards were presented to squadron members who had successfully defeated entrenched resistance from various bureaucratic offices. It was at that point that I realized just how much this was going to be like the USAF.

The next meeting is in two weeks and will be notably different from this one - they will have planes in the air coordinating with the staff on the ground as they go through what I assume will be a practice mission. I'm looking forward to that too.

As far as flying, I am still practicing what I can in my own plane, which really isn't much. I'm just flying GPS instrument approaches in good weather and no vision obstruction devices as are usually used in IFR practice. I'm not ready for that quite yet; I'm practicing following the routes and altitude changes with the autopilot and my eyes mostly looking out the window. I'm getting close to the point where I will put on the vision-limiting goggles (Foggles is the trade name) and enlist the help of a safety pilot. I'm still also using one of my PC-based flight sims to practice the use of the Garmin G1000. I'm also getting close to starting discussions on the subject of spending some money on a new iPad and a tremendously useful app called ForeFlight. Frankly, I want that even if I never fly IFR again - it's an incredible tool.

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