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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Aviation & Flying Activities  |  Topic: NESA- MAS
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Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,689

« on: December 02, 2006, 03:47:22 AM »

Any NESA-Mission Aircrew School graduates and/or staff on here? I've heard a lot of it from guys from my former unit who staff out there, and have already applied for a mission pilot track slot. Wondering how effective you think the curriculum is, quality of staff, etc?
Steven Fedor, NREMT-P
Master Ambulance Driver
Former Capt, MP, MCPE, MO, MS, GTL, and various other 3-and-4 letter combinations
NESA MAS Instructor, 2008-2010 (#479)
Bluelakes 13
Seasoned Member

Posts: 293

« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2006, 02:48:56 PM »

I'm MAS Observer graduate last year.  Great program.  Very nice way of getting qualified in a week's time.

Posts: 81

« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2007, 07:16:49 PM »

I also did the observer track last year (not enough PIC time to do MP yet).

The NESA-MAS has a lot of really good points and some really bad points. I'll list bad first:
1) Lodging - the default choice of lodging are some vietnam era cinder block barracks that smell like the stinkiest gym locker room you've ever set foot in. Community bathrooms, moldy matresses, etc. Strongly advise seeking alternative lodging. All of the MAS activities take place at the columbus airport anyways so there's really no need to stay on post unless you need the free place to stay
2) Food - Apparently its some tradition that the food is bad because it never seems to improve. I've talked to guys who attended years ago and they had the same comments about the quality/quantity of the food.  Not much you can do about it unless you stop on your way to the airport in the morning and buy your lunch or eat in the restaurant that's in the airport every day.  Think of the worst camp food you've ever had and that's what we're talking about here.....seriously, I would rather have eaten MRE's all week.
3) Lack of tailored training to pilot/non-pilot status. If memory serves, this course runs Friday through the next Saturday. I think it would be better if the school front loaded the course with the classes that pilots don't need (ie how a wing generates lift, what is a control surface, etc) on the first two or three days and told the pilots to show up 3 days late.  As it is, 98% of the course work is taught simultaneously to those in both the observer and pilot track.  As it stands right now, if you're a pilot and/or already know about air space, basic aerodynamics, flight instruments, etc be prepared to be bored out of your mind for about 30-40% of the class time.
4) Bad Instructor/Staff Attitudes. This isn't a big problem; most of the instructors & staff are great guys who really know their stuff.  But this is enough of an issue that I feel I should mention it to anyone attending so they won't be surprised should they encounter it. Last year there were a handful of instructors and staff who took the titles "instructor" and "staff" a little to seriously.  It was obvious they were getting a real ego trip out of it.  There was also an underlying disdain for low time pilots.  If you go as a MP student and are in that 175-200 hour range, be prepared to be watched like a pre-solo student.

Now the good things...
1) Cost. I think on average MP students will get about 10 hours of stick time. For $155, you can't beat that. Throw on top of that lodging and meals for 10 days and MAS is a real bargain (note comments above about lodging and food though).
2) Instructors/Staff. Despite #4 above, most of the instructors are great and a lot of fun. Even the ones who can be {insert adjective here} know their stuff about CAP missions, regs, procedures, etc.
3) Facilities. The Columbus Airport has a pretty good setup to support this kind of activity. It's a controled field but not busy at all. They have a fuel truck so you don't have to pump your own gas. The basement of the FBO makes a great large classroom. THere's a restaurant on-site. The airport is close to town so there are plenty of evening dining/entertainment options.
4) Organization. For the most part, this is one of the best organized CAP activities I've been to. The training areas are setup well, good communications and safety procedures are in place, etc.  MAS is only one component of NESA and usually any disoganization, I think, came from that interface instead of within MAS.
5) The on-post All Ranks Club. If you stay on Camp Atterbury, there's a great All Ranks Club with pool, darts, and a good assortment of beverages. Many of the students and instructors gather here after hours which really helps build comraderie among the class.

The best thing about the school is getting to learn about conducting mission flight ops in a very structured and standardized way   You really learn your stuff here from mission pre-flight/briefing all the way through debrief.  In many wings local procedures and tribal knowledge rule. MAS is really great because they (mostly) teach you and force you to do things the right way.  A month after I got back from MAS, I was at a SAREX and ended up riding as a backseat scanner for a MP and a MP trainee. I was the one who ended up teaching the MP trainee how to fill out a 104, plan the mission, fly the grid, and conduct the entire mission simply because I was better trained at that stuff than the MP was.


Posts: 1

« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2007, 05:42:53 AM »

I agree with the previous comments.  Check with Camp Atterbury about alternative housing.  My wife and I came from Air Venture in Wisconsin in our motor home, so we stayed at the base RV park.  Someone else stayed on base elsewhere. 

Can't comment on the food much since most meals were at the house on wheels.  However, the restaurant at the Columbia Airport is excellent.  Many of us chose to eat lunch there.

I went there already a mission pilot to learn more about being a mission pilot - and did.  But I learned more about the duties of an observer than a mission pilot - mainly because you will find out that the observer is the mission commander.  He/she tells you where to go, what to do when you get there, and when to go home.  The observer should run the radios, the nav systems, and fill out the 104.  The pilot basically aims the airplane, strives to keep it in the air in one piece, and keep it on course during the various search patterns.

You do, as one person mentioned, find out how to run a mission smoothly.  We had as many as 17 aircraft airborne simultaneously, with a single radio and operator back at base, yet very little confusion resulted.  This was primarily because of a mission program written by one of the staff.  We are starting to use it in our wing now.

Understanding just how important the 104 is to the mission prep and the debrief will happen soon into the course - like the first time you have it reviewed by the staff - and on about the fourth try to get it right - they will finally approve it. 

Safety was woven into every aspect - kudos to the staff for never minimizing the importance of safety.  It paid off many times.  And, don't underestimate the heat in the summer in Indiana.  It can be brutal.

We had a good time, but the first couple of days is pretty exhausting. 

If you can go to, by all means do so.  You, and your wing can't help but benefit. 

Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 2,195

« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2007, 11:13:19 PM »

WHere do you people get the time off to do these things? WHat do you guys do for a living? ;D
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Aviation & Flying Activities  |  Topic: NESA- MAS

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