Book Review – From Maine to Mexico: With America’s Private Pilots in the Fight Against Nazi U-Boats

In celebration of the Civil Air Patrol’s 75th Anniversary, I sat down and read From Maine to Mexico: With America’s Private Pilots in the Fight Against Nazi U-Boatswritten by Louis E. Keefer. What I read totally blew me away. My respect for these courageous men and women was just ratcheted up a number of levels. While I was aware of the basic history of this group because of my membership with Civil Air Patrol (CAP), I did not fully realize the sacrifices and risks they took. From Maine to Mexico sheds light on a piece of history very few people know about. Read more

Using Evernote Peek to improve your Aerospace knowledge

Throughout my Air Force career, I would use practice quizzes to prepare for my promotion exams. These practice exams were paper-based. Now there are a number of online and digital tools to help students prepare for exams . One tool that has caught my eye integrates with Evernote, one of my favorite tools. This tool is called Evernote Peek. More about this tool in a second, first I would like to point out some benefits of students using online quizzing tools.

Benefits of Online Quizzing

Students tend to find online quizzing more favorable than traditional in class quizzing (Alexander, Truell, & Bartlett, 2002; Nguyen & Kulm 2005; Peat & Franklin, 2002). They have more control of their time because they can choose when to take a quiz (Butler, 2003; Itoh & Hannon, 2002; Johnson, 2006). They often use online quizzing as a study method for the actual exam (Capus, Curvat, Leclair, & Tourigny, 2006; Cassady & Gridley, 2005; Itoh & Hannon, 2002). Because they can practice repeatedly (Brothen & Wambach, 2003), they have less stress while taking the actual exam (Butler, 2003; Cassady & Gridley, 2005; Itoh & Hannon, 2002; Ricketts & Wilks, 2002). The more frequently students use online quizzing to prepare for exams, the better they perform on the actual test (Capus, et al., 2006; Clariana & Wallace, 2002; DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Grimstad & Grabe, 2004; Johnson, 2006). Students who took online quizzes yielded a ten percent score increase (Butler, 2003). Students using online quizzing practice more than those taking paper-based quizzes (Nguyen & Kulm 2005). Additionally, they have a lower dropout rate (Shimazu, 2005).

One of the greatest attributes of online quizzing is the immediate feedback delivered (Alexander, et al., 2002; Brothen & Wambach, 2003; Byers, 2002; DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Johnson, 2006; Nguyen & Kulm 2005); students have actually come to expect it (Peat & Franklin, 2002). Many programs can randomize quizzes; students receive a unique quiz each time they take it. With randomized quizzing, students tend to practice more, at least, until they believe they have achieved full benefit (Grimstad & Grabe, 2004). Online quizzes can also incorporate multimedia (DeSouza & Fleming, 2003). There is also a reduction in staff and administrative overhead when administering an online quizzing program (DeSouza & Fleming, 2003; Pain & Le Heron, 2003).

Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace Education Program

I am regularly looking for methods, strategies, and tools to help my Civil Air Patrol cadets pass their exams. There are a number of variables that affect progression in the program. Cadets can join CAP at any time. Cadets also have varying educational backgrounds: private schools, public schools, and home schools.  As a result, cadets can be anywhere in the program. It is very similar to a one room school house.

Cadets must progress through a leadership and aerospace education curriculum. In an ideal situation, each squadron would have experienced educators providing instruction to cadets; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Unsolicited feedback indicates that online practice quizzes have helped cadets pass their aerospace education exams.

Evernote Peek

Evernote Peek is a flash card quizzing program that uses the Evernote Smart Cover or a virtual smart cover to display questions and subsequent answers. Evernote Peek draws questions from Evernote notebooks containing notes. The question is the title of the note, and the answer is the body of the note. Notebooks can be shared with individuals or with the public. I plan to share my quiz notebooks with the public.

Creating Peek Questions

Here are the steps for creating peek questions.

1. Open Evernote

2. Create a notebook for questions. In this case, I have created two notebooks.

Shared Evernote notebooks
Shared Evernote notebooks

3. Create new notes for each question that you wish to create. Place the question in the title, and the answer in the subject.

Creating Questions in Evernote Peek
Creating Questions in Evernote Peek

4. If you want others to benefit from your questions, share your notebook to individuals or create a public link.

Sharing Evernote Notebooks
Sharing Evernote Notebooks

Using Evernote Peek

To begin using Evernote Peek, first install it on your iPad.

1. Launch Evernote Peek, and tap the add button to add more notebooks.

Evernote Peek opening screen
Evernote Peek opening screen

2. Select either “My Notebooks” or “Shared Notebooks”. If you use shared notebooks, you first join a shared notebook in Evernote.

Evernote Peek Notebooks
Evernote Peek Notebooks

3. Select the notebooks you wish to use, and click on the “Done” button.

Notebooks with questions
Notebooks with questions
New Evernote Peek notebooks
New Evernote Peek notebooks

4. Click on a notebook to begin using it.

Evernote Peek chosen notebook
Evernote Peek chosen notebook

5. Close the Smart Cover and peek to begin or close the virtual smart cover.

Closed Virtual Smart Cover
Closed Virtual Smart Cover

6. Expose the question by flipping up the lower part of the cover.

Showing a question
Showing a question

7. Expose the answer by opening the cover more.

Show the answer
Show the answer

8. Grade your attempt.

9. Close the cover to go to a new question.

If you want to go to a new notebook, open the cover all the way.

Final results
Final results

Shared notebooks

Here are the first two shared notebooks I have for Aerospace Education for Civil Air Patrol. I will be working on more. This particular questions come from Aerospace Dimensions modules.

If you are creating and sharing notebooks with questions, please send me the link and I will include it.


Alexander, M., Bartlett, J. & Truell, A. (2002). Students’ Perceptions of Online Testing. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal. 44(1), 59-69. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Brothen, T. & Wambach, C. (2003). Using WebCT Quizzes in a High-Demand Environment. The Technology Source. May/June 2003. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Butler, D. (2003). The Impact of Computer-Based Testing on Student Attitudes and Behavior. The Technology Source. January/February 2003. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Byers C. (2002). Interactive Assessment and Course Transformation Using Web-Based Tools. The Technology Source. May/June 2002. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

Capus, L., Curvat, F., Leclair, O., & Tourigny, N. (2006). A Web environment to encourage students to do exercises outside the classroom: A case study. Educational Technology & Society. 9(3), 173-181. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Cassady, J. & Gridley, B. (2005). The Effects of Online Formative and Summative Assessment on Text Anxiety and Performance. The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment. 4(1), 4-30. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Clariana, R. & Wallace, P. (2002). Paper-based versus computer-based assessment: key factors associated with the test mode effect. British Journal of Educational Technology. 33(5), 593-602. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

DeSouza, E. & Fleming, M. (2003). A Comparison of In-Class and Online Quizzes on Student Exam Performance. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. 14(2), 121-134. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from Eric.

Grimstad, K. & Grabe, M. (2004). Are Online Study Questions Beneficial? Teaching of Psychology. 31(2), 143-146. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Itoh, R. & Hannon, C. (2002). The Effect of Online Quizzes on Learning Japanese. CALICO Journal. 19(3), 551-561.

Johnson, G. (2006). Optional online quizzes: College student use and relationship to achievement. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology. 32(1). Retrieved October 18, 2006, from

Nguyen, D. M., & Kulm, G. (2005).  Using web-based practice to enhance mathematics learning and achievement.   Journal of Interactive Online Learning (JIOL). 3(3), Winter 2005.  Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Pain, D. & Le Heron, J. (2003). WebCT and Online Assessment: The best thing since SOAP? Educational Technology & Society. 6(2), 62-71. Retrieved October 17, 2006 from

Peat, M. & Franklin, S. (2002). Supporting student learning: the use of computer-based formative assessment modules. Britich Journal of Educational Technology. 33(5), 515-523. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Ricketts, C. & Wilks, S. (2002). Improving Student Performance Through Computer-based Assessment: insights from recent research. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 27(5), 475-479. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

Shimazu, Y. (2005). Language Course Taught with Online Supplement Material: Is it Effective? Education. 126(1), 26-36. Retrieved October 3, 2006, from EBSCO Host.

How technology helped us find a missing aircraft

Google Earth Overlays for missing aircraft
Google Earth overlays for missing aircraft

On Tuesday evening, I was asked by the Civil Air Patrol Incident Commander (IC), Lt Col Mike Carlson to assist in the search for a missing aircraft. A Piper PA-32 was overdue on a flight from Dodge City, KS to Casper, WY. The aircraft was found on Thursday afternoon through the dedicated efforts of all involved. As a the planning section chief  (PSC) for the mission, I was responsible for helping to narrow the search and recommend future search areas. To accomplish this, we leveraged all the technology at our disposal. Here are the steps we took, the technologies used, and the lessons learned.

Google Earth

Google Earth was perhaps the most effective tool we had out our disposal. On Google Earth I plotted every detail I possibly could, and as a team we viewed the results of the plots to make search decisions. Once tasked as PSC, I first plotted the departure and arrival airports and the suspected flight path.

As the mission developed, we captured more information. The next major piece of information plotted were the NTAP points (radar points) of the suspected route of travel for the missing aircraft. I plotted each point and drew a path connecting each point, this showed us where to start our search.

CAP Grid System
CAP Grid System

We next overlayed the CAP Grid System for our area of search. This allowed us to rapidly determine search grids for our pilots. Using the grid system as a template, I shadowed the areas searched and proposed to be searched. This helped to tell a story and easily identified future search grids.

As the search progressed, we received input from ground teams in the area of sightings they were making. I would plot the coordinates of the ground team along the direction of the sighting and distance. After the mission concluded, one of the ground teams provide me with their GPS tracks. These were uploaded into Google Earth.

We each piece of the puzzle, we were able to narrow the search to being within .15 miles of the actual missing plane location.

Google earth makes it convenient to turn the display of an item on and off depending on the need. One of the key features that helped to quickly narrow the search was the 3-D view of the terrain. By changing the view from 2-D to 3-D, we were able to rule out proposed search areas.


We use SPOT to keep an eye on our aircraft in flight. Approximately every 10 minutes, the SPOT device transmitted a signal that is displayed on a Web site we followed. In addition to regular status checks on the radio, the SPOT device allowed us to follow our aircraft in flight.

Upon the completion of each day’s sorties, we downloaded the tracks from SPOT in a KML file and posted it to the mission Google Earth KMZ file.


We used Dropbox to store documents vital to all essential personnel. Primarily, we used Dropbox to share the ever changing Google Earth KMZ file. Each time Google Earth was updated, we updated Dropbox. Additionally, we posted photos taken from the search aircraft into Dropbox.

Dropbox is a great tool for collaboration with a dispersed team. Our team was certainly dispersed; the IC was in Cody, the Public Information Officer (PIO) was in Cheyenne, and I was in Laramie. Additionally, we had aircrews flying out of Powell, Gillette, Casper, and Casper. We were also working with the Albany County Sheriff Department and search and rescue teams.


Skype was our primary means of communications among the mission staff. We created a Skype group that was used throughout the mission. Except for an occasional conference call, typically twice a day, we extensively used the chat features to keep the team up to date. At the end of each day, we copied the chat and saved it as a text file to the mission files.

Using the premium features of Skype, we were able to conduct conference calls with all essential agencies. The IC could conference in both Skype users and other phone numbers.

Because I could access Skype from all my computers, my iPad, and smartphone, I was always up to date on the status of the mission.

Evernote and Google Alerts

With Evernote and Google Alerts, we were able to track and capture all the news stories relating to the search. Here are the details for capturing important information to Evernote. I track and save all news feeds with the terms “Wyoming” and “Civil Air Patrol” in them.


WyoLink radio system was essential to the IC and his ability to communicate with aircrews, ground teams, and other essential agencies. Other systems have been substandard to this effective system. WyoLink has been a welcome augmentation to other systems we use such as mutual aid, and the CAP system.

Lessons Learned

This was perhaps one of the most effective and educational searches that we had carried out. However, there are always lessons learned.

  • I could have changed locations and integrated with the Albany County Sheriff to demonstrate how we are tracking the mission. I will still do this as well as establish relations for future missions.
  • We could have established a Dropbox folder specifically for this mission and get it shared to all parties earlier.
  • Take advantage of the 3-D capability of Google Earth earlier in the mission.
  • Work to get everyone on Skype chat to keep everyone informed.
  • Clear out Skype timely each morning.

I learned a lot on this mission and wanted to share my lessons learned.