CAP Conducts Falcon Virgo Training Flights in Texas
Capt. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer
Eighteen Civil Air Patrol airplanes and 62 CAP members supported the Mississippi Army National Guard in a Texas-based exercise designed to prepare Guard members for an upcoming deployment.Acting in its capacity as the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, CAP worked with the Guard to certify operators who will soon be deployed to Washington, D.C., in support of air defense efforts.
The exercise, called Falcon Virgo, is regularly conducted to test responses, systems and equipment. In this exercise, Civil Air Patrol pilots’ mission is to simulate incursions into restricted airspace for National Guard members who will be responsible for protecting the skies in and around Washington.
This is a certification process that occurs regularly for Guard members who will replace those currently on assignment in the nation’s capital.
CAP pilots in single-engine Cessnas acted as tracks-of-interest flew into restricted airspace while North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) aircrews responded, honing their intercept skills. In this case the training area was a restricted U.S. Army range in Texas, which was simulated as restricted airspace in Washington.Guard members then had to secure the airspace. The number of planes in the exercise area increased as the replacement Guard members demonstrated their ability to track more aircraft.
The U.S. Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, also provided intercept services to the Guard members so they could practice intercepting aircraft flying a track-of-interest, as determined by the trainees.
“In a time when all Department of Defense units are under travel restrictions, CAP was still supporting this essential training mission as tasked by Pasteour parent organization, the U.S. Air Force,” said Col. Joe Smith, CAP’s Southwest Region commander. “What our volunteer professionals do to help train active duty servicemembers as part of the Total Force is invaluable.”
CAP aligns under NORAD’s Continental U.S. Region.
Flights on the range ran 24 hours a day from March 18-22. CAP airplanes made about 18 flights per day – six per eight-hour shift – along routes designated by the exercise evaluators to meet training objectives.
Falcon Virgo is a recurring exercise in support of Operation Noble Eagle, which started as the military response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to place a greater emphasis on the surveillance and control of airspace over the U.S. and Canada.