Archive for November 4, 2018

OCS Reaches to the Edge of Space.

The Omaha Composite Squadron took giant leap in its Aerospace Education Program in 2018. Beginning in 2017, the squadron Aerospace leaders began to brainstorm an activity in which all aspects of the Cadet Program could be utilized, and which would allow Cadets and Seniors to work together towards a unified goal. That activity was the launching of a payload to the edge of space using a helium-filled High Altitude Balloon (HAB).


Our research began by consulting with organizations in the area that had accomplished this task, and learn from them, what kind of minimum requirements and expectations we should hope for as novices in this area. In October of 2017, 2d Lt Kirk Rasmussen, Omaha Composite Squadron’s Aerospace Officer presented the proposal to the cadets.   Cadets were separated into various groups, including payload, digital payload and data, Launch and Recovery teams.

Over the next 6 months, OCS members worked together as teams to have a working project ready for a spring launch date. That day came on April 28th, 2018. The Chalco Hills Recreation Area parking lot was selected as the launch site.   An FAA NOTAM was filed in advance for the local area, and after carefully preparing and testing the working condition of all electronic sensors, cameras, receivers and transmitters in the payload harness, the parachute and balloon were attached. Seniors supervised the filling of the Balloon with Helium, as cadets carefully prevented it from drifting or swaying towards the ground.


Soon, the countdown was initiated, and the balloon lifted into the cool Nebraska skies and began climbing slowly in a southeasterly direction. The Omaha Composite Squadron Office became the mission base for the tracking and coordinating the retrieval of the balloon, while a recovery team departed in the squadron van in the general direction of the HAB’s travel. Communications between Misison Base and the recovery team consisted of HAM radios and eventually text messages to the team once they were out of radio range.

After reaching an altitude of 35,000 feet near Nebraska City, the HAB crossed into Iowa and began a rapid climb, reaching 60,000 feet by the time it reached Hamburg, IA. It then turned east and continued passing quickly to altitudes that surpassed everyone’s expectations. The HAb finally reached an altitude of 103,385 feet over Shenandoah, IA, and popped. The payload began a fast vertical descent for nearly 40,000 feet into denser atmosphere and the wind began carrying it south into Missouri at 98 mph! The Recovery team, which had reached Shenandoah and had been directly under the HAB, would several hours of travel time before reaching the final landing. Senior members at Misison base were closely following the track of the HAB online via the SPOT E.L.T. transmitter, and the HAM radio APRS system online.   The final resting point of the payload was 2 miles northwest of Burlington Junction, MO.

Mission Base transmitted the last known location of the payload sensors via text message to the Recovery team. The recovery team was only able to reach a dead-end road about 2a mile away from the target location. They then deployed a UAS towards the last known location of the target while receiving live video imagery from the location below the UAS. Within minutes, the team was able to locate the bright red parachute from the air! After noting the actual coordinates, the team traveled on foot to find the intact payload resting on the banks of the Nodaway River – only 50 feet away from the water!

As an Aerospace activity, the High Altitude Project was an unqualified success, and a team-building experience that taught everyone involved how to work towards a common goal, and how the actions of several teams working together on different aspects of a project can come together to reach new heights.

Omaha Composite Squadron – 2018 Summer Activities

The beginning of the September school year marked the end of an eventful Summer for the Omaha Composite Squadron. This year, OCS sent a record 18 Cadets to the Nebraska Wing Encampment. 14 attended as basic cadets and four as encampment staff. Cadets participated in Marksmanship training, rappelling, and Blackhawk helicopter flights provided by the Army National Guard. A record 9 cadets received full scholarships to attend the activity as well.


The OCS color guard was invited to present the colors during game 11 of the College World Series.

Two cadets attended the Iowa Wing Encampment, with one of them acting as Deputy Cadet Commander.

Three cadets participated in the Nebraska Ground Team Academy (Pathfinder) weekend in Fremont, putting into practice many of the techniques learned during their classroom training. This training enabled them to move even closer to getting their Ground Team Qualifications, and invaluable skill towards the unit’s Emergency Services goals.


Two OCS Seniors and one Cadet participated in the Johnson Glider Flight Academy. C/2dLt Noble Rasmussen graduated and received the Distinguished Glider Student award. Feedback received from the Instructors at the flight academy, indicated that cadet Rasmussen “was a natural.”

The beginning of July was marked by the presentation of two Ira Eaker Awards and the promotion to C/Lt Col of two of our cadet members; the presentation of the VFW Outstanding NCO and Officer awards, and the presentation of the Air Force Sergeants Association outstanding squadron cadet award.

In July, three OCS cadets attended the National Blue Beret Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, during the EAA Airventure airshow, where they each earned the Search and Rescue Ribbon, as well as the Find ribbon for their efforts in locating activated ELTs during the two week activity. Our unit’s very own C/Col Meredith Wichman received a surprised visit by the CAP National Commander, Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, in order to present her with the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Achievement Award.

On August 15th, Cadets and Seniors were able to tour the 155th ARW Firefighting facilities, and boarded a KC-135 tanker for a refueling mission of an RC-135 over the Midwest.

At the end of August, the annual OCS squadron picnic was held at the Chalco Hills Recreation Area, with over 150 family members and friends in attendance, along with a few prospective cadet and senior members. The following weekend was followed by Cadet Orientation Flights for several of our newest cadets.


The end of summer was topped off with OCS cadets and Seniors assisting at the Council Bluffs Fly-In breakfast.

As we write this article, OCS was also notified that it has received the Quality Cadet Unit Award (QCUA) along with two other units in the Nebraska Wing: The Curtis LeMay and 155th Composite Squadrons.

OCS Cadet Earns her Spaatz Achievement Award

On the 10th of July, 2018, the Omaha Composite Squadron was notified that C/Col Meredith Wichman had successfully completed the rigorous knowledge and physical requirements for advancement to the position of Cadet Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program.   This was the culmination of 3 ½ years of outstanding leadership and volunteer service, not only with Civil Air Patrol, but also as part of her extracurricular involvement at school and in the community.   Cadet Wichman has also distinguished herself as the current Nebraska Wing Cadet of the Year.

Immediately after receiving the results of her Spaatz achievement examination, C/Col Wichman departed for the National Blue Beret encampment in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to take part in the busiest airshow in the world; by far, the most visible national activity for the Civil Air Patrol cadet program. It was during her second week at the EAA AirVenture airshow, that CAP’s National Commander, Major General Mark E. Smith surprised C/Col Wichman and presented the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Achievement Award certificate and triple diamond rank to C/Col Wichman, in the presence of the 155 cadets present at the activity. Cadet Wichman was able to pay one last visit to her cadet peers a the Omaha Composite Squadron, and give words of encouragement prior to departing for College.

Cadet Wichman is currently attending Oklahoma State University on a U.S. Air Force ROTC as well as an academic scholarship to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, as well as a Professional Aviation degree. Her goal is to receive a commission in the United States Air Force. We wish her the best of luck in her studies and future endeavors.

OCS crews help with Low Level Route Surveys

During the Month of August, the SD Civil Air Patrol approached the Nebraska Wing for assistance in flying the Low Level Route Surveys for several of the Military Operating Areas and Training Routes that the South Dakota Air National Guard uses for training purposes. Crews from various units in Eastern Nebraska, including the Omaha Composite Squadron, were briefed on the mission to locate any new towers or structures that have appeared in the area over the past year. Using GPS equipped cameras and GPS loggers, crews flew the predetermined routes, plotted, photographed and logged the details of every new tower, feedlot, confinement area, etc that could be a potential noise sensitive area or hazard to flying in general. This information is used to update the FAA charts, as well as the military charts used for training purposes.   Among one of the most useful skills developed during the flights, was the ability to transfer flight plans from crewmembers’ mobile apps into the G1000 system in the aircraft, which provided a critical timesaving tool for future flights.