8/16/2010–Middle River, MD–For the first time, a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Aerospace Education Officer’s school for the Middle East Region was held recently at the Glenn L. Martin Learning Center in Middle River, Md.
Maj. Bob Beichner, director of aerospace education for CAP’s Middle East Region (MER), served as the school’s director with local organization by Maj. Robert Terry, Maryland Wing’s aerospace education officer, and Capt. Mark Kukucka, aerospace education officer for the Glenn L. Martin Composite Squadron. Additional assistance was provided by Col. Larry Trick, former Maryland Wing commander and aerospace education advocate. Thirteen CAP members participated in the three-day school, including a wing commander, two wing directors of aerospace education, some very experienced aerospace education officers (AEO), and several brand new AEOs.
The school agenda was very flexible. The first day included introductions, goals of the school, aerospace education people in CAP, hands-on activities, a current events share-a-thon, a lesson plan example for seniors, and a tour of historic static aircraft at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, led by Al LaPorte of the museum staff. Afternoon discussions included model rocketry, the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC), and a discussion of AE reference materials and websites. Following an evening dinner, attendees enjoyed a Climate Change seminar by Dr. Charles Walthall.
Walthall, the US Department of Agriculture National Program Leader for the Climate Change, Soils and Emissions Program, gave the evening seminar on climate change which covered basic definitions, characterizations and indicators of climate change and then moved on to particulars. Robust weeds were not the sort of indicator most of us would key on, for example. He ended the presentation by highlighting opportunities for CAP’s hyperspectral (and other) imaging capabilities which could play an important role in tracking the climate’s impact on vegetation. Walthall, a former CAP cadet himself, also agreed to join the Maryland Wing speaker’s bureau and offer this seminar and/or similar talks to other squadrons and groups.
The second day began with a visit to the 175th Wing of the Maryland Air National Guard at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Md., which is a composite fighter and tactical airlift unit. Attendees viewed the A-10 and C-130J flight lines and aircraft maintenance operations facility.
Master Sgt. Ed Bard, MDANG, supervised the visit to the Maryland Air National Guard station. The group was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the A-10 Warthog simulator which several participants were able to operate a full scale A-10 Warthog simulator. Thankfully, the number of successful landings matched the number of take offs! Participants also observed maintenance and repairs being done to several A-10s including one with a recently patched bullet hole shot from a rogue gun in Afghanistan.
After the tour and back in the classroom, students discussed AE reports, awards, plans, compliance inspections, AE specialty track advancement, continuity notebooks, interfacing with public schools, and concluded the day with a tour of the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum. The final morning offered a hands-on lab that measured model rocket engine thrust (or impulse) output with a ballistic pendulum and a summary discussion of the school.
Since the school’s agenda actually served as more of an outline to ensure thorough coverage, a good deal of the learning time was spent reviewing resources that were physically on hand (in addition to the contents provided on the memory sticks given to the attendees.
The resources filled three large tables and included most of the curriculum materials provided by CAP national headquarters including Journey of Flight (with teacher guide), the AEX program for all ages, Aerospace for the Very Young, all the Aerospace Dimensions modules plus small topic materials like lessons on Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindberg, and the Wright Brothers. Additional books and non-CAP materials, especially NASA-provided information, were also available. Participants reviewed the materials, selected an item that was new to them, studied its content, and then presented what they found to the rest of the attendees. This worked quite well and allowed everyone to become familiar with a wide variety of AE resources.
A memory stick was provided to each attendee which included a large assortment of materials useful to AE officers. There were lists of AEMs in the various states of the MER, files useful in creating an AEO continuity notebook (including a movie describing in detail what goes into the notebook). Complete continuity notebooks appropriate for wing and squadron level inspections were also provided. There were cutouts provided for several paper cardstock airplanes, including a CAP 172, a simple F22 model suitable for elementary school children, and a Wright Flyer that was detailed enough that it could be built by advanced cadets or even adults.
The Satellite Tool Kit was discussed and a website that locates the International Space Station, showing times and path across the sky was demonstrated. Participants created a variety of their own “aerial devices” including a flying ring, a helicopter, a foam plate glider, and a sled kite made from a brown paper shopping bag (see photo below). The memory stick given to each attendee seemed to be the hands-down favorite giveaway with many commenting on the usefulness of the resources. The memory stick contents are available on the web at http://files.me.com/beichner/p1x3n8.
There were additional classroom demonstrations provided by the school’s instructors as well as by some participants. Simple Bernoulli principle demos were complimented by detailed instructions for building a rudimentary ELT antenna. A good amount of time was spent working on a ballistic pendulum. First, it was necessary to calibrate the deflection measurement against the vertical displacement of the center of mass. Once calibrated, the pendulum was used to measure the peak deflection when driven by two different size model rocket engines. The impulse accumulated from the motor could then be inferred by checking it against the model rocket manufacturer’s specification. A discussion of this pendulum’s design and operation is also available on the web at http://www.mdcap.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.display&pageID=152.
Participants viewed a sample adult AE lesson with computer software providing a simulation of GPS satellite operation. In addition, the Learning Center’s flight simulator, which featured three LCD screens, a joystick and rudder pedals was available throughout the school. Maj. Sean Lee from Maryland’s CAP Reserve Assistant Program visited with the group and described his duties and the strong ties between CAP and the US Air Force. He also led a Q/A session and even participated in our model rocketry discussion.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 58,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 23,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years.
More than 1,500 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit www.mdcap.org