Monday, January 28, 2019

We Remember the Challenger Seven

by: 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan

Thirty-three years ago today (28 January, 1986) we lost the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-51L), when the orbiter exploded 73 seconds into the mission. It was determined that record cold temperatures damaged the rubber O-ring seals on the solid rocket boosters, reducing their ability to effectively seal the gap between the booster segments. This allowed superheated flare from the boosters to escape through the gaps, compromising the structural integrity of the external tank, causing a breakup of the vehicle in flight.

The Crew of Challenger STS 51-L
Interest in STS-51was high around the nation because it was to have the first teacher-in-space. Christa McAuliffe, of New Hampshire, was selected among over 100 semi-finalists (from 11,000 original applicants) to fly on board Challenger. The plan was for her to teach several lessons while Challenger was in orbit, which would have been broadcast live to millions of schoolchildren.

The crew of STS-51L was:
  • Commander: Lt. Col. Francis "Dick" Scobee, USAF
  • Pilot: Cmdr. Michael Smith, USN
  • Mission Specialist: Lt. Col. Ellison Onizuka, USAF
  • Mission Specialist: Judith Resnik
  • Mission Specialist: Ronald McNair
  • Payload Specialist: Gregory Jarvis
  • Payload Specialist: S. Christa McAuliffe
The legacy of the Challenger's crew lives on today...

"In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the families of the Challenger crew come together, firmly committed to the belief that they must carry on the spirit of their loved ones. They envision a place where children, teachers and citizens can touch the future: manipulate equipment, conduct experiments, solve problems, and work together, immersing themselves in space-like surroundings. Their goal is to spark youth interest and joy in science and engineering, believing that spark can change lives. With their collective efforts, they create Challenger Center for Space Science Education. "

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1

by: 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan

Fifty-two years ago today, on January 27, 1967 our nation lost the crew of Apollo 1 in a flash fire that occurred in their spacecraft during a test on Launch Complex 34 at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station in Florida. 

From L to R Roger Chaffee, Edward White and Virgil "Gus" Grissom
The commander of Apollo 1 was Lt. Col. Virgil "Gus" Grissom, USAF. Grissom was a veteran of two previous spaceflights; Liberty Bell 7 during the Mercury program and Molly Brown (Gemini 3). Grissom had been told privately by "Deke" Slayton (who was in charge of astronaut crew selection) that he would be the first to walk on the moon.

The senior pilot was Lt. Col. Edward White, USAF who may have been best known for being the first American to "walk in space" during the mission of Gemini 4 in 1965.

Apollo 1 would have been the first spaceflight for pilot Lt. Cmdr. Roger Chaffee, USN.

On January 27, 1967 the crew was conducting what was called the "plugs out" test, which was a test of the spacecraft's systems, to ensure that everything was nominal for the mission's scheduled launch date of February 21, 1967. During the test the spacecraft was disconnected from any external sources of power and ran solely on battery power from the spacecraft.

At approximately 6:31pm someone on the crew said, "We've got a fire in the cockpit!" It is believed that a spark originated in a bundle of wiring beneath Grissom's seat. In just a few seconds the spark, fueled by the pure oxygen atmosphere inside the spacecraft, raged through Apollo 1. Under ideal conditions it would have taken 90 seconds to open the three piece hatch; unfortunately the crew was lost within 30 seconds of the first "fire" transmission.

While Grissom, White and Chaffee would never fly their mission nor go to the moon, their mission, in a sense, made the moon landing possible. The investigation uncovered many things that were unsafe in the Apollo spacecraft design (such as the hatch, the use of flammable materials in the cabin and using a pure oxygen atmosphere while the spacecraft was on the ground) in NASA's policies and procedures, and in the general mindset that everyone associated with the program had. In our quest to reach the moon by the end of the decade corners were cut, unnecessary risks were taken and everyone suffered from "go-fever."

The fire forced all involved to pause and reflect and come up with a better way forward...which they ultimately did. On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong famously took a "giant leap for mankind" as he and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. In all twelve men, over six missions, walked on the moon during the Apollo program.

Prior to his death Grissom was asked about the risks of spaceflight and this is what he said, "If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Introducing Squadron 150's New Deputy Commander

Long Beach Senior Squadron 150 commander Maj. David Powell appointed 2nd Lt. Craig Roalf as the squadron's new deputy commander, succeeding 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan who served as deputy commander for two and a half years. 

Powell said, "I chose 2nd Lt. Craig Roalf as my deputy commander because of his hard work, his extensive dedication to Civil Air Patrol, and his extraordinary passion for aviation.  I am looking forward to working with him to develop a stellar squadron in 2019 that emphasizes emergency services and aerospace education."

(L to R) In this file photo 2nd Lt. Craig Roalf is flanked on his left by Squadron 150 commander Maj. David Powell and on his right by outgoing Squadron 150 deputy commander 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan
(Civil Air Patrol by Maj. Alexander Smith)
"I would like to humbly express my appreciation for being given the opportunity to assist Major Powell in the leadership role of our squadron in the position of deputy commander" said Roalf. 
I would like to humbly
express my appreciation for bei
ng given the opportunity to assist Major
Powell in the leadership role o
f our Squadron as Deputy Command

Roalf became a member of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in June 2017 and, in addition to his new duties as deputy commander, also serves as Squadron 150's emergency services officer, emergency services training officer and assistant aerospace education officer. His emergency services qualifications include Mission Observer, Mission Scanner, Ground Team Member-Level 3, and Mission Radio Operator. 

Anacan will continue to serve as the public affairs officer for South Coast Group 7 (the parent organization of Long Beach Senior Squadron 150) and as the public affairs officer and assistant emergency services officer for Squadron 150.
I would like to humbly
express my appreciation for bei
ng given the opportunity to assist Major
Powell in the leadership role o
f our Squadron as Deputy Command

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Congratulations Second Lieutenant Sochirca!

Long Beach Senior Squadron 150 announced the promotion of SM Mihai Sochirca to the grade of second lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), United States Air Force Auxiliary during a meeting on 6 December, 2018. 2nd Lieutenant Sochirca has been a member of CAP since February 2018. He currently serves as an assistant safety officer, assistant aerospace education officer and is a mission scanner trainee.

(L to R) Squadron 150 Deputy Commander 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan, 2nd Lt. Mihai Sochirca, Squadron 150 Commander Maj. David Powell (Civil Air Patrol photo by SM Donna Babi)
Squadron 150 deputy commander 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan said, "2nd Lieutenant Sochirca has been a valued member of Squadron 150 since joining CAP. His knowledge and expertise has boosted our safety department's efforts; his emergency preparedness initiative has not only encouraged all squadron members to prepare now in the event of an emergency, but he has also made it very simple for members to know how to procure the needed items. We are highly appreciative of his efforts."

 2nd Lt. Mihai Sochirca (L) receiving his certificate of promotion from Squadron 150 Commander Maj. David Powell (Civil Air Patrol photo by SM Donna Babi)

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Garmin VIRB Discussion During Our Next Meeting (10 January, 2019)

Join us this Thursday 10 January, 2019 for our next Squadron 150 meeting. The topic will be on the Garmin VIRB camera system that is used by Civil Air Patrol (CAP) for airborne photography missions. During the wildfires in Fall of 2017 in California CAP was tasked by FEMA with taking pictures of the affected areas. Civil Air Patrol aircrews flew about 140 flights taking roughly 6,000 photos with the wing-mounted VIRB cameras. We will also be discussing Garmin Drones and North American Aviation, time-permitting.

Garmin ViRB camera used for Civil Air Patrol (CAP) airborne photography missions mounted on wing of CAP aircraft
(Civil Air Patrol photo by 1st Lt. Rommel Anacan)
If you are visiting for the first time, we recommend that you plan on arriving by 7:15pm so that we have some time to welcome you before the meeting begins. Please also plan on staying a few minutes after the meeting so that we can make sure to answer any questions you might have about serving in CAP.

Be advised that Los Alamitos JFTB is an active military installation and you will need to show proper picture ID to the guards at the front gate. Let them know that you are visiting the base for the purpose of attending the Civil Air Patrol meeting.

Please be aware that your vehicle may be subject to search; the speed limit while driving on base is 25 MPH and it is strictly enforced by Federal law. Please note that cell phones may be operated while driving aboard the base only if a hands-free device is employed.

Friday, January 04, 2019

CAP's Lester Wolff Celebrates 100th Birthday

This was originally published on
4 January, 2018
Civil Air Patrol Col. Lester L. Wolff, U.S. representative from New York from 1965-1981, turns 100 years old today.
Four years ago, Wolff (second from left in the graphic photo below) was selected to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of CAP members -- like him -- who served on the home front during World War II. In addition to his service during the war, Wolff made many contributions to CAP in his lifetime, including legislation that led to full congressional funding for the organization. 
CAP National Headquarters joins with members of the Congressional Squadron (which he co-founded), as well as Wolff’s former constituents in New York, in thanking him for his service and wishing him a happy 100th birthday.