Training Ensures CAP Pilots' Readiness as Hurricane Looms
1st Lt. Alysia English
Director of Public Affairs
Civil Air Patrol is prepping its pilots this weekend for the possibility of extended missions in southern states once Hurricane Dorian makes landfall.
As Dorian churned into a Category 5 storm, CAP officials focused on making sure its volunteer airmen are up to date on required flight certifications.
As a Total Force partner of the U.S. Air Force and its official auxiliary, CAP holds its pilots to a very high standard to ensure they meet mission requirements, said Col. Andrea Van Buren, commander of the Southeast Region, which includes Florida and Georgia.
Each year, CAP pilots must undergo a rigorous quality control evaluation in a process known as the “Form 5 flight evaluation.”
In contrast, regular general aviation pilots undergo an instructional flight review every two years.
Form 5 flight evaluations include an oral exam covering Federal Aviation Administration and CAP flight procedures, along with an in-flight proficiency demonstration lasting from one to 1½ hours.
The check ride includes preflight inspection, ground operations, emergency procedures, approaches and landings, safety and a range of in-flight maneuvers.
Instrument-rated pilots must also demonstrate proficiency covering en route and instrument approach in conditions that include clouds, fog or rain. To simulate instrument conditions, the pilot being evaluated wears a vision-restricting device while being carefully monitored by the check pilot administering the exam.
“I’m very proud of the professionalism and accomplishments of our CAP volunteer aircrews,” said Van Buren, the region commander.
“When you see CAP planes in the air, you can rest assured that highly qualified volunteers are at the controls, supported by highly trained aerial photographers, mission observers or scanners also on board.”
In order to serve as a CAP check pilot, members must be FAA-rated as certified flight instructors and are required to demonstrate their proficiency to evaluate other CAP pilots.
Headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, CAP is tasked with such emergency duties as aerial damage assessment, search and rescue, and transport.
CAP owns and operates the largest fleet of single-engine Cessna planes in the world while also flying other powered aircraft like the Gippsland GA-8, and Maule MT-7-235. CAP is also the largest owner and operator of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the U.S. and right now is in the process of deploying these sUAS in support of FEMA for the first time.
In addition to the powered planes and sUAS used for emergency operations, CAP also has the largest fleet of gliders in the nation and two hot air balloons that are used to provide flight training and orientation flights to cadets across the country.
CAP’s Southeast Region includes about 10,000 volunteer members serving in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.