Air Force Airmen To Test Flight Skills at NESA As Part of New CAP Pilot Prep Program
Civil Air Patrol’s largest training activity of the year — the National Emergency Services Academy, or NESA — is under way this weekend in Indiana, and members of the U.S. Air Force will be more involved than ever before.
Fifty-two Air Force airmen will participate in the Pilot Prep Program (PPP) being held with NESA. The program is a new initiative for CAP, forged from the partnership between the Air Force and its longtime auxiliary.
“Over the next two weeks, we will host 52 Air Force officers from 38 bases around the world, 26 during each week, as part of NESA,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations. “The plan is to provide six to eight hours of flight instruction along with ground instruction and additional training time in flight simulators to make them competitive for the next undergraduate flying training selection board in September.”
All of the PPP students were required to complete an online ground school before attending. Each student will also have opportunities to be mentored on site by Air Force-rated officers as well as CAP pilots who are also current or former Air Force-rated officers.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to provide flight training for our fellow Air Force airmen,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander and CEO. “As the Air Force auxiliary, we appreciate any opportunities to assist our Total Force partners.”
PPP is being conducted alongside NESA’s Mission Aircrew School — one of three schools that combines task-based training with practical application. In addition to the Air Force students, over 500 CAP members from every state will participate in NESA this year.
The multidisciplinary training consists of two weeklong sessions from July 13-27 at Camp Atterbury, a 30,000-acre Indiana National Guard facility in Edinburgh, and Columbus Municipal Airport.
NESA’s Mission Aircrew School teaches critical skills needed for pilots and other aircrew members to stay at the top of their game supporting CAP’s varied airborne missions of CAP, like missing aircraft searches and airborne photography.
In addition, NESA’s Ground Search and Rescue School provides members the skills they need to expertly perform ground team operations, especially search and rescue missions.
The academy’s Incident Command System School covers the necessary skills for top-notch leaders and staff officers at incident command posts and other critical operating locations managing operations.
“This training helps ensure Civil Air Patrol’s success,” Smith said. “Many of these members completing NESA training will go home and teach others the latest emergency services techniques.”
CAP aircrews flew nearly 90,000 hours in 2018, conducting search and rescue, disaster relief, air defense, counterdrug and numerous other critical missions. CAP was involved in 1,012 search and rescue missions and was credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center with saving 158 lives — the highest number in CAP’s modern-day history.
“NESA brings in experts from across the country to provide this training,” Desmarais said. “We have one goal in mind: to ensure that academy graduates are armed with practical knowledge and skills to support the varied missions of CAP.”
NESA operates annually with a staff of about 120, mostly CAP volunteers, complemented by instructors representing various federal, state and local agencies, including CAP-U.S. Air Force officers who monitor the training to ensure it meets Air Force standards.
A total of 34 courses, providing training for all of CAP’s emergency services mission specialty qualifications, are now offered at NESA. This includes new opportunities for CAP personnel to learn how to operate small unmanned aerial systems, or sUAS, in support of disaster and search and rescue operations.