CAP for dummies

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Salty, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    Can somebody explain the purpose / benefit of CAP both to the pilot and to the public, or whoever they serve? I read their entire website, and I still have no idea what they do, or what the point is exactly.
     
  2. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    What is CAPS?
     
  3. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    CAP with a brain fart at the end
     
  4. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    Benefit to pilot = Depends on the squadron.

    In our squadron, transport mission pilots and mission pilots get 3 hours of proficiency paid for a month. That's two free flights in a G100 182. Because my squadron is the maintence base as well, we also get a lot of ferry flights that are fully funded bringing planes in from around the state. Plus flying cadets. Can't beat that for going to a meeting once a month. But I'm in MS where there aren't a ton of pilots, so we have less people to spread the resources around to. There are some state wings where you get almost no free flying or the more senior members hog it instead of spreading it around.

    Benefit to the public = Not a ton. We mobilized and did some flying during the hurricanes. Last year, a mission from the MS wing found a lost boat and called in a rescue out in the gulf. It's probably still cheaper to fund CAP than have the Air Force do random search and rescue missions like that.

    Benefit to the military = It's a recruiting tool via the cadet programs. Probably the main reason it still exists.
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Civil Air Patrol? It exists so old dudes who couldn't become military pilots because of bad eyesight, can go out and build coveted C182 time on the tax payer's dime. :D

    Sorry I kid, I kid. Basically they do a lot of SAR, natural disaster relief, they recon MTRs for hazards, play guinea pig for fighter intercepts in MOAs and educate youngins' on military customs/courtesies and learn a bit about aviation in the process.

    That's it in a nutshell but Nate can give 3 pages of details. :biggrin:
     
  6. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Old dog w/o new tricks
    That’s it in a nutshell.
     
  7. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Benefit is to the youth,giving them some structure,and a start in aviation.
     
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  8. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    Based on the history of CAP threads here, @Salty may have stepped on a hornets nest.

    Personally, I think it is a good program that helps the public in times of need, helps the cadets gain structure and purpose, and gives the "older" participants a way to give back to the community. Sure, they get to fly cheaply, but it's not like they're doing $100 hamburger runs.

    There are many ways I see our tax dollars being wasted, but I don't include CAP among them.

    [Note: I do not participate in the program]
     
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  9. Anymouse

    Anymouse En-Route

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    When I joined CAP, I was interested in doing SAR missions. Found out about DR and CN missions later. I had a good time there, but finally let my membership lapse a few years ago. It seems that the closest squadron to me is now over an hour's drive away. That and the fact that I'm not really around much makes my participation minimal. If there was a squadron closer to me, I'd definitely be back in.

    As some one mentioned above, it really does depend on the culture of the squadron you're in. Fortunately, the three squadrons I've been associated with have all been awesome!
     
  10. yetti

    yetti Pre-takeoff checklist

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    AFter Harvey they flew around and took lots of pictures. Meanwhile there were a fair amount of private pilots with planes running supplies to communities cut off by flood waters.
     
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  11. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Here where I live there is a student CAP unit. Last time I talked with them, about 3 years ago, a good portion of the students were motivated to some sort of military career.
     
  12. mulligan

    mulligan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Darn, I thought this was another make fun of Cirrus thread. Carry on.
     
  13. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    I was a CAP cadet, back in the distant past, and many of my fellow cadets went into the military.

    I was the only one that went into the Air Force. It wasn't military enough for my friends......

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  14. Katamarino

    Katamarino Line Up and Wait

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    The cadets in my squadron seemed to get a lot out of it. The majority of the flying I did was giving them orientation flights. There was a min syllabus of 5 flights that they could get, they'd spend most of the time on the controls, and learn most of the fundamentals. At least a few went on to get their PPL, and all gained an appreciation of GA, as did their families and friends. Good PR.
     
  15. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Since Ben Haas has passed away, we lack the contrarian view of CAP on POA ;-)





    The benefit to the pilot: Once you have jumped through a couple of hoops, you can get some free flying out of it. Some of that flying is somewhat self directed (training and currency), most of it is in support of a CAP activity. Orientation flights for the cadets, orientation flights for your local JROTC unit. Moving planes around. Occasionally, there is an actual SAR mission. 90% of the SAR missions are duds, just some maintenance shop that bumped an ELT or a pilot who changed his plans and didn't tell anyone about it. And then it happens, and a CAP crew actually contributes to a lifesaving mission:

    http://bismarcktribune.com/news/sta...cle_17dba2d2-f3ff-5d09-91ac-d3476f6f5b5e.html

    The benefit to the public: The air force and many state and local SAR organizations get a network of 560 small aircraft that can be deployed on fairly short notice, usually at no cost to the local entity requesting a mission (AF picks up the tab if the local SAR entity goes through AFRCC to request a mission). As it is largely a volunteer organization (a few employees at national HQ and one or two per state), the AF gets all this at a very low expense. After you strip our the cadet programs and aerospace education (12.5mil), the 'emergency services' side in 2016 had expenses of about 28mil. If you allocate 2/3 of the 'non-program expenses (administration) to the emergency services side, you arrive at about 41mil spent. That's less than a million per state per year. Now of course, the AF could go out and contract with one of the large .gov contractors to station planes across the country and provide on-call crews for them. For anyone familiar with the government contracting process it should be clear that a million a year per state wouldn't even get you started.




    So, there you have it. Your benefits for the pilot and the public. There are lots of criticisms anyone familiar with how CAP operates as an organization can level, but that probably goes beyond the 'what are the benefits' question you posed.
     
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  16. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    I've always wondered what they really do also. I've only ever seen young cadets standing guard at airshows and old dudes flying the planes.
     
  17. FlySince9

    FlySince9 Pattern Altitude

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    I was a cadet when I was a teen...Loved it... Aviation classes at every meeting, Camping (bivouac) and flying every weekend... Got me a stripe right outta the gate when I joined AF later in life... Also I was a senior member/pilot in the early '80s while stationed at Plattsburgh, NY... Did some FB111 and KC-135 parts deliveries to and from Pease AFB and some other neat stuff... Haven't been involved since. I have known them to search for errant ELT beacons at local airports... Some old guy with a funny looking box and antenna thingy...LOL
     
  18. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    I attended a coupl'a local CAP meetings to see what the deal was. both times they gave a presentation on 'something', one time it was tips/pointers for taking photos in the plane which I thought was interesting, picked up a few tips for personal use. don't recall what the other presentation was but they were both interesting. then we got to speak with one of the representatives who gave us the rundown on what goes on. whole lotta "prep for SAR, practice for SAR, talk about SAR, plan out SAR....." finally I asked what the last SAR mission they went on was and the response was "well, we've never actually done a SAR mission." in theory it sounded good but it just wasn't for me. it basically seemed like a paperwork factory. whole lotta non-military people acting like military people, filling out paperwork on procedures for filling out paperwork. and besides, who really wants to help kids out anyways? [dorkysmileyfacehere]
     
  19. GaryV

    GaryV Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I looked into joining two local squadrons in this area. When I checked with the squadron leaders I was told that both require weekly meetings and that if you want to be able to fly you are expected to bring proof that you’d attended a meeting at another squadron if you were out of town and couldn’t make the local meeting for a week. That ended my interest in joining CAP.

    Gary
     
  20. BiffJ

    BiffJ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As with much in life it depends a lot on where and when. In New Mexico and the other mountainous states out west the CAP does a lot of Search and Rescue flying. While I was a member back in the mid 80s to the mid 90s we conducted a lot of searches for airplanes that didn't realize overweight was a problem at 12,000 feet. The clouds have rocks in them...
    Most of the time we found, or weren't able to find wreckage but occasionally people were saved by the efforts of volunteers. In addition we did a lot of searches for lost hikers and were able to add a few more saves to the list. I don't recall any disaster relief type stuff but with tornados being a fluke and hurricanes a non entity in the western mountains the only real disasters I can think of would be earthquake, volcano or nuclear related and we haven't had any problems with those for a few hundred years.
    So that is a benefit to the public and while many will tell you we flew for free it isn't really the case. Proficiency flying was paid for by the pilot and the rates are not always less than the local airports. We did get reduced rates for some flying and actual mission flights were no cost to the crew. We maintained our own aircraft to the extent legal and proper. A couple of us who were A&Ps did additional work on a volunteer basis to keep aircraft flying.
    As an SAR squadron we didn't deal a lot with the cadets so I can't really say much about them. I know the CAP is seen by many to be a group of old guys who couldn't cut it in the real world but I don't think all the units are like that. A good percentage of our squadron was made up of retired Air Force pilots who had been there and done that. I flew quite a bit with a B36 pilot who was an excellent instructor and a good guy. There was also an Ex F106 wild weasel pilot who had been shot down over vietnam and rescued before he was captured. The list goes on. We did have our wannabees but all in all I think it was a good group and for all I know they still are.
    I moved to indiana some years ago and found the CAP units here are mostly cadet type groups. Flying is a pain with lots of hoops to jump through and work to be done for little flying. There are more of the wannabees and less flights for actual public benefit but there are also a lot fewer aircraft. New Mexico had more in the Albuquerque squadron than Indiana has in the whole state. Less public benefit equals less money spent.
    In my opinion the CAP is a bit like the coast guard. You don't hear much about them, they don't seem to do much but when you need them they're there.

    Frank
     
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  21. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    They don’t task themselves. Any failure of tasking is usually squarely in the hands of the emergency management team or a politician’s office who won’t authorize their use. Usually just out of cluelessness not maliciousness.
     
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  22. MichiPilot

    MichiPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    so you can wear super cool flight suits.....
     
  23. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    Colorado CAP is very much the same as New Mexico - 4 or 5 senior squadrons that do the flying - the only involvement most have with the cadets are the orientation rides. In our squadron there's only 4-5 pilots that do those. Lots of lost hikers, crashed airplanes (one of our crews was the one that found the Cirrus a few weeks ago) part of the state Firewatch program, lots of photos for FEMA and insurance companies when floods and fires hit, Altho I'm a pilot (but not CAP pilot) most of my CAP work is External Aerospace Education. I work with high schools and cadet squadrons getting them involved in the CyberPatriot program (computer security - we have over 5000 teams this year, worldwide). And once in a while I sit in the back of a CAP airplanes looking for something or someone. Last I looked, almost none of us wear flightsuits while flying or at meetings.
     
  24. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I’ve also never seen an airplane that wasn’t overweight at takeoff that was at 12,000’. LOL. Nor searched for one because the weight became a problem at altitude.

    Service ceiling is service ceiling. Hitting mountains is rarely caused by weight. It’s caused by being a dumbass about how your aircraft will perform in a downdraft greater than its ability to climb / lack of excess horsepower available.
     
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  25. Cajun_Flyer

    Cajun_Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    I work in emergency management. We lean on CAP for aerial imagery following major incidents... like tornados or flooding. Well, we have historically. More and more we look for drone imagery. State Police lean on them for help with SAR operations.

    ETA - I attended a CAP meeting once... the thought of some of those people flying was kinda scary to me... one guy, a pilot I was told, couldn't stay awake past the first 5 minutes of the meeting and looked to be 90ish with extremely shaky hands. They were not welcoming to me at all, so that was my first and last meeting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  26. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Oh man; I flew for CAP as a Mission Pilot (MP) for 13 years; the nonsense wore my big behind out. Some squadrons do a real nice job with cadets, and that's cool. The pilot population is all over the place. Ex-military pilots, ATPs, low time GA guys, etc. They tend to get some grief because the call signs are common - every one on the freq knows when a CAP pilot screws up, so they all get painted with the same brush.

    What I got out of it as a pilot was funded flying (there is never a reason to pay to fly a CAP airplane once you're a MP), and an incredible amount of bureaucratic frustration and time wasted; there were occasions where I spent more time getting the paperwork and blather done than I logged flying. Literally. They are not/not a pilot centric organization - you can spend all day Saturday flying for them, and they'll gripe you didn't help prep for some zero-to-low value paperwork exercise, as if giving them a day of flying wasn't as valuable as another member giving them a day of driving the cadets around.

    They tend to have good ol' boy cliques, and unless/until you break into one, the meaningful flying can be pretty scarce. The national level management has been "ethically challenged", and they stumble from one grotesque farce to another; that's been true for decades. Most of that doesn't directly impact you at the squadron level, but it can be embarrassing.

    What they are supposed to do is aerospace education, cadet programs, and SAR. The education part shriveled up long ago, and is mostly, with some exceptions, a relic from the 50's and 60's. SAR is way down, with the advent of 406 beacons, and they're trying to supplment it with aerial photography, but that isn't selling real well. The cadet program seems mostly successful, but I really wasn't involved with that.

    The quality of the effort and the people varies all over the place; some squadrons are dynamic, well managed, do a lot with the kids, fly a bunch (mostly training for the relatively rare missions, and for cadet orientation rides); but plenty (maybe the majority?) are pretty thin on people, purpose, and having their act together. They tend to over-promise when recruiting, then loose the new folks in a year or so. The churn rate was pretty high when I left in 2014. They spend a lot of time getting people qualified for missions they'll never be called on for. I know a non-pilot who invested a lot of time and money getting qualified as a Mission Observer (right seat, operate the FM radio, look out the window) - even took leave to go to a national training location. Then nothing - no calls, nothing, for two years. He wasn't in the cliques, and he wasn't a pilot, and they tended to put two pilots in the airplane for "real" missions.

    My CFII (ATP) went through all the hoops to be a CAP IP: after waiting over a year for an approval, he moved on, as well. Not in the good ol' boy network. Used to you could pay for proficiency flying at a rate pretty well below the going FBO rates; that gap has narrowed, and there are clubs and partnerships that are actually cheaper. The airplanes are usually maintained as well as a quality FBO, but not always. There were two airplanes (a 172 and a 182) I flew once and wouldn't fly again. And a 172 I wouldn't fly even once. But three in 13 years might not seem too bad, I guess.

    I nver wore a flight suit - just a CAP polo shirt and gray slacks; I'm ex_USAF, so the wannabe factor wasn't there. You do see it sometimes, maybe 10% of the guys.
     
  27. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some CAP wings are very active and others might as well fold the ES side of their operation as they don't have a mission to speak of.
     
  28. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Glad this thread came up, I went to a meeting the week before last and plan on attending one this up coming week. The first meeting did spark my interest, good to see everyone's good and bad takes on things. I plan to get a little more familiar with it, seems to be a pretty good squadron at first glance
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Emergency managers, for better or worse, Don’t color outside the lines very much. Very set in their ways.
     
  30. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Yep, keep an open mind - some/some squadrons are well run; if you encounter one of those, you might have some fun, do some good. If they don't have their act together, just move on to another, if one is close by. It kinda depends on your personal tolerance level for BS, and the wing and squadron BS level. You might find a fit that works for you. For a view from both extremes, Google "Captalk" forum, which is basically a cheerleader for CAP. And then check "Auxbeacon", which is very anti-CAP.

    CAP is always hurting for Mission Pilots - they usually struggle to get 200 hours per year, per airplane. It's not an agile, or particularly well managed, organization, but there are some islands of competence below the wing level - hope you find one of those.
     
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  31. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Which squadron did you go to?
     
  32. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    I would imagine they have fairly strict protocols to follow which is a good thing when you are dealing with budgets paid for by tax dollars.
     
  33. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The cadet side of the program is more or less the Air Force's version of the Boy Scouts, so the direct benefit to the country is about the same as it is for the Boy Scouts. It was incredibly rewarding to me and I learned a lot about leadership and management that gave me a real leg up as a young adult, even though I ultimately decided not to join the military. I had an ROTC scholarship that I won largely on the basis of my CAP accomplishments.

    It also introduced me to my flight instructor, who instructed me for free. I just had to pay for the plane.

    The direct benefit to the country from the SAR and aviation programs is harder to see. Depending on your state, CAP may be the first call for a missing aircraft or missing person (used to be in NY, now the State Police get the call first. They have to justify their expensive helicopters.) Every time there's a natural disaster, CAP volunteers are going to be on the ground assisting with logistics (moving supplies, staffing warehouses, etc.) and likely in the air doing aerial assessment and photography for the planners on the ground.

    After 9/11, CAP flew the first photo recon sorties over ground zero. I briefed the crew. (The first planned sortie was cancelled because NYPD decided they owned the airspace and to demonstrate that, promised to shoot down any civilian planes that flew over Manhattan. They were undeterred by the fact that USAF controlled the airspace, the plane was painted in the official red/white/blue paint scheme, and USAF told them the flight was going to happen.) Before that flight, the extent of the damage wasn't really known, and planners were hunting in the dark to figure out the next steps. This is typical of what happens after disasters.
     
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  34. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    I guess I'm lucky.

    I hear horror stories about never flying, no funded flights, and lots of wasted time.

    But in my squadron we get 36 hours a year fully funded for proficiency and you can get another 20 or so doing ferries and cadet flights plus the occasional SAREX or real mission. We meet only once a month. All the "paperwork" is just filling some stuff out online and logging the flight in the plane's log book.

    There's no old boys club culture. Us young guys do most of the flying actually as others are retired or professional pilots who just don't worry about hoarding hours.

    I guess the moral of the story is to go find out for yourself. Every squadron is different. Ours is senior only and I think that's the key if you want to just focus on flying.
     
  35. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    The protocol is: If there’s a need, ask for a resource. And CAP is incredibly cheap per flight hour when requested. Below the cost of renting the aircraft privately, and crew is included.

    The color inside the lines thing is more of a “What they do” thing. It’s rare to see emergency managers utilize a resource in any way they haven’t utilized it in a table top session pre-emergency.

    The example here would be utilizing CAP for small airlift capability. They’d just skip to getting the bigger airport open and order up a much larger aircraft. You’d have to have a real scenario where someone would die without light airlift bringing in supplies before the Air Ops Branch Director would even think about doing it.
     
  36. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    The senior squadron at JQF...121 I believe. From what I can tell at first glance they seem to have their stuff together.