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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Gear Corner

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but never found the time to do so. Lucky for you fine people I somehow found it tonight and we're in dire need of an update. I figure I'll say my piece on SureFire. Please feel free to comment on this, because shockingly, I can't seem to find anyone with a similar experience.

First and foremost, the G2 and 6P that I currently own are certainly fine pieces of illumination technology, especially with the P61 lamp (120 lumen lamp for these models). It certainly drowns out my 4D MagLed at short distances and is a lot more compact. However, these are the only good points I can find about a $30 and $60 flashlight.

Now, I certainly don't abuse equipment, but 3 hours after I bought the G2 it stopped working, then started working, then on. A few light taps in my hand seemed to make it work. When asking a friend who has the same one, he said it never happened. Figured I got a lemon until one night while refueling a Global Express, it slipped out of my hand, rolled down the wing and stopped working all together. A drop of MAYBE 6 feet killed this thing. So I went and bought a 6P. It was metal, made better but basically the same for more.

The red lens assembly also shattered into a million pieces. So here was $50 down the drain altogether. (I used the red lens at night on the ramp because most GA aircraft are painted white and the light without it was causing a very intense glare).

In the meantime, I called customer service to ask about the guarantee. The gentleman I spoke with was very friendly, listened to my concerns and helped me the best he could. He called me back 10 minutes later to tell me SureFire was going to send me a new lamp assembly and he needed to verify my address. So, their customer service is outstanding.

I kept the 6P in the cupholder of my Wrangler only using it to see under shelving in the store hangar (the highbay as we call it) because it is not lighted and gets pretty dark in there...hard to see small part numbers. Somehow...amazingly...THE 6P DID THE SAME THING! Not only that, but another short drop, this time maybe 4 feet...shattered the Pyrex lens. Now I have the only 6P in the nation with a G2 lens. Luckily it fit.

So this so called "best in the world" flashlight is now serving me to see where the Palmetto Bug ran behind the couch so I can squash it with my Doc Martens.

And my official opinion of Surefire....Well, I've never managed to brake a Maglite....even getting pissed and throwing it against a tarmac ramp. Food for thought.

Comments please.

Captain Christopher Bishop
Currently on "extended leave" from CAP

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Search Update

Word just came in that they found the man we were looking for. He was found expired in the river. More info to come.

Monday, July 02, 2007

No Joy, I repeat No Joy

This last weekend was marked by a missing person search in the area. My stomach dropped after I read the OPOrder sent to me by my G3 in the Guard. 73 year old male, advanced alzheimers, diabetes.....missing for 2 days already. For any of you who haven't been to SC in summertime, it can be hard for a young fit person to deal with the heat and humidity, much less an elderly diabetic male. Instantly the term "Recovery Mission" came to mind as I began prepping my gear for our 0600 deployment the next morning. Just today was my last day of a 8 week archaeological field school for my major in Anthropology. After 8 weeks of 6am mornings and working outside for 8 hours a day digging holes, I was looking forward to tomorrow as one of my first days to sleep in and heading to my parents' place a couple hours away from some R&R. So much for that, time to gear up and play. The next day was marked with sun, heat and few promising leads.
We deployed from a church nearby the man's last known position and were assigned to small task force teams of State Guardsmen and Search Dog agency members. Few moments of promising scent trails surfaced but the midday heat hindered the tracking ability of the dogs. Finally the dog nosed down and took off into the woods near the marsh and our pace quickened. I posted outside the woods while my SGT, Mike, went in with the dog team. Anxious minutes passed, "Dog tracking further down to the water, over" squawked the radio voice of my SGT. Whats going on? Where are you guys? Any signs? These questions all ran through my mind and demanded to be told over the radio but I knew I should keep my curiosity down and the radio clear and resolved to adjust the gear on my back. Finally my curiosity grabbed hold and I called Mike "Sierra Golf 02, Status report over". "Negative contact so far 03, hold position over". Great, more waiting I thought as I kicked at the dirt and garbage along the road at my feet and watched the dust settle on my boots.
The radio squawked again shaking me from my dusty reverie. "03 this is 02, return to rally joy, I repeat no joy over". My heart sank, this guy is still out here somewhere and our team had resolved that we, being the youngest most high-speed guardsmen teamed with the best dog handler the agency could provide would find him. I furrowed my brow as I humped it back to the rally point; hadn't the previous search teams mentioned they had lost the scent at this location? Had he managed to hitch a ride somewhere? My thoughts grew conflicted; if he had gotten a ride at least that meant there was the possibility he was OK somewhere else, but then again where? That vastly increased search area and in turn would make our search run longer, which was time this man didn't have.
"Game over man, Game over" I said quoting PVT Hudson from the Aliens movie as Mike came into view around the corner.
Mike chuckled and said "Load up in the truck, I'm radioing the TOC that we're about to RTB".
I wandered over to the truck while slurping on my camelback. It was 95 with heat index of 107, if I was this hot surely the man....I pushed the morbid thoughts out of my mind and plopped myself on the tailgate of the K9 handlers truck that served as our transport. Mike loaded up next to me, the truck itself was so full with the k9, its crate gear and other stuff that the only place we could ride was off the back of the tailgate with our boots dangling inches over the road. I put my head back on the crate as we drove back to the TOC. It was 1350 and we had been on two continuous search patrols since 0620. I was ready for a break, chow and some AC. I closed my eyes and let the fresh moving air wash over me.
"Hooah Corporal" the captain in charge of the operation said to me as I dropped my gear to the floor in the church's gathering hall. I waved halfheartedly at the CPT and continued to strip down to my T-Shirt, which at this point might as well have looked as though I had just gone swimming in it. Just then I felt something cold poke against the back of my hand. I looked down to see Wolf, the K9 who had been part of our team looking happily up at me as I pet him. "Congratulations, you've made a friend for life. These dogs remember who they search with" Wolf's handler said to me as she smiled at her dog. I frowned as I realized that in the 30 seconds he had been near me Wolf had managed to make a pool of drool roughly the size of Lake Michigan on and around my boot. I sighed and continued petting the aptly named Wolf.
We took 30 minutes while we waited for the rest of the teams to RTB and await out next tasking. Luckily we being the younger guys we recharged faster and ran longer than most of the other troops, a fact our command often knew and took advantage of.
"Whats the word Pete?" I asked First Sergeant Peters as he sat looking at our current search areas on his laptop. Pete as we called him had been 173 Airborne in Vietnam as a dog scout and now worked both as a guardsman and a k9 rescuer but his age didn't show one bit.
"Nothing right now, just sit tight I think we're having formation soon" Pete said to me without looking away from his screen.
Ten minutes later after a small debrief and a detachment "Hooah!" we were dismissed to go home. Apparently with the approaching summer storm and heat the searching had been halted due to lack of scent. As I loaded my gear back into my car I noticed someone standing a few feet back from me. I looked at the middle-aged black woman who identified herself as a member of the missing man's family. She had just wanted to take a moment to thank us for looking for her uncle. I had told her that it was my pleasure and job and wished her well before we parted ways. I closed the hatchback on my car and moved back inside to help Mike with some of his gear and tell the rest of the guys to take it easy. I walked back once more out into the sun and heat. Oh yeah it was Saturday, time to take some nice time off and head back down to visit the parents and enjoy some free food, better times and some semblance of a summer vacation.

Monday, April 30, 2007

How NOT to Handle a Mission

Just got word, however it may be a rumor, that the Piper Tomahawk that went down in Georgia last week could have in fact been a save.

We know for a fact that the gentleman that went down exited the aircraft and got into a sleeping bag, meaning he WAS in fact alive post crash. There were several GT's available to be dispatched, however the Wing in question (State in which he was found) was too busy doing a training exercise to change gears and look for a real world emergency.

While no one is wild about night ops, when someone's life may hang in the balance, who cares what time of day it is? Shouldn't every available resource been dispatched?

We train to SAVE people's lives, not wait until we are with a wing exercise and then go look for them. IF and only IF this rumor that we've come across is in fact true, this rests on the conscience of whoever dragged their feet.

-1stLT Chris Bishop (AVGASPASSER)

I cannot but wholeheartedly echo Chris' sentiments. If this rumor is true I am deeply saddened and disgusted that a life that could have been saved was relegated away because of someone's schedule. We may be volunteers but we are tasked with a specific mission, one we are expected to fulfill to the best of our abilities. If the wing is question could truly not respond they had merely to make a phone call to the SC wing, all of which were on alert ready to be deployed, myself included.

-TFO Andrew Beckham (SAREX)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Not a bad day of training. We all agree that it's best to make mistakes as you're training so you can iron them out before the big game. Below is the washdown:

Repeater and radio coverage from the MB is and always has been great. It benefits the ground pounders and AC to have a MRO and at least an assistant at the MB at all times. We found ourselves doing command post work while we were out in the field: which wasted time.....a LOT of time.

The laptop/ DeLorme/ HT GPS/ Dashmount GPS worked absolutely perfectly. Would have worked beyond better than that had we not had a wrong GPS coord. from the AC, which may have been due to bad VHF reception.

The best vehicle for a UDF/GT is the CAP van in our instance. My Jeep is not that great for it as we found out. My wife's Jeep may be better, but it's full of pink baby gear for my little girl....... and would just look odd. CAP van it is. If we ever have to tear off through a swamp, we'll just go back and get the Wrangler.

That's the skinny version. Like I said, it was an official UNofficial SAREX that was mainly to train AC and the UDF member that was with me all day. I think it went well, but once we iron the wrinkles out, it'll run like clockwork.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Small SARCAP 21 Apr 2007

We have an official unofficial SAREX today. AAR to follow shortly, but the details are as posted:

Originally this stared as a aircrew training exercise with a (me) certified MRO as dispatch, but evolved into a joint AC/GT exercise. I'm unaware of the exact number of GT we will have but I know for sure it will be at least a UDF with myself and another SQ member. (I had 3 loads of Jet and Avgas to offload at the local FBO today and was unable to be near the phone for most of the day hence the unknown portion of this section).

Morning will consist of AC training on a Route Survey, with communications support/ training for the UDF as MRO's and MB Staff. AC will then switch to an ELT DF coordinated with the UDF after the survey is completed.

We (the UDF/GT) will be fielding a few new technologies such as a in-vehicle laptop and Delorme Topo based GPS system coordinated with a few handheld and dash-mounted vehicle GPS units. We will also be testing out the new handheld DF unit our SQ recieved back in Feb, along with working out some body blocking with air band and WB handheld scanner radios.

Monday, April 02, 2007

OK....Now I'm P!$$&D

Figured tonight I'd order say, a certain......NAMETAPE from Vanguard.

$1.50 (rounded price) for the tape.

$7.00 !%*&*$@! DOLLARS FOR SHIPPING????

HOOAH NB! You guys ROCK!