Pros/Cons of Joining the Civil Air Patrol?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by HighFlyingA380, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. HighFlyingA380

    HighFlyingA380 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I did some thread searching as I thought this would've been discussed already, but couldn't find much, so here goes (feel free to just link another thread if one covers this):

    Should I join the CAP? What's all involved? I have done a bit of research and talked a bit with some CAP guys at my work, and it all seems to indicate that it's an almost free way to get some good flight time. Due to this, alarm bells are ringing in my head, screaming that this is too good to be true; If it were actually true, why wouldn't it be a much more talked about opportunity and be so easy to join? So, what are the actual pros/cons of joining? (In particular the cons...)

    Thanks!
     
  2. bqmassey

    bqmassey Line Up and Wait

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    The experience can vary greatly between units. Some get bad reputations, deservingly, for not being particularly effective at SAR and for having a good ol' boys mentality. Other squadrons are dedicated, well trained, and gladly welcome anyone that wants to participate. The squadron I recently became involved with is a great example of the latter.

    If you're joining it just for free flight time, my suggestion is "don't". It takes training and experience away from those that care about the mission, and you probably won't find the little bit of flight time worth the time and money required to maintain an active membership.
     
  3. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    It is all local. Some outfits are terrible beyond description, some are cool. Bunch of paperwork hoop jumping stuff that is universal, but the end user free/cheap flying bit all depends on the personalities in the local squadrons and how you fit in. Someone has to fit in with the terrible outfits or they wouldn't exist. Nevermind the hate(there is plenty much of it probably deserved) but the only thing that matters is if the locals meet your definition of cool. Just go visit.
     
  4. KeyWestPhotog

    KeyWestPhotog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As a current Officer in CAP, I recommend you looking at the Civil Air Patrol's website and seeing what their 3 missions are first. Then make your determination, on where you would like to fit in.

    Once you get that established then feel free to ask more questions from people who are still current members. Yes you are going to get mixed feelings, but once you understand what CAP truly is, then you can see how everyone's opinions can mislead newcomers.

    Not saying that X-Members aren't a reliable source as they can be more reliable than some current members. But current members will have the most up to date information on things.

    If you are thinking of joining to be able to fly allot, then I wouldn't recommend it for you as there is so much more involved than just flying.


    Sent from my iPhone using An APP that doesn't pay me to advertise for them.
     
  5. NineThreeKilo

    NineThreeKilo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Joined after looking at it for a long while.

    Basically you get to deal with folks that want to play airforce, they ARE NOT INTO FLYING as much as what uniform to wear and SOPs, OPSEC and every other acronym they can think of.

    Kinda a secret squill club if you ask me, after being a volunteer fire fighter, medic, etc these guys arnt into helping people as much as being part of a lil dorky club.


    You want to make a difference, or have something more worthwhile then the $100 burger club, look into angel flight.
     
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  6. HighFlyingA380

    HighFlyingA380 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for the input so far!

    While I'd still love to join an organization where a valuable service, such as SAR would be provided, I'll admit that it's probably not my top reason. Being a recent Pro Pilot college grad trying to build hours and experience, I'm trying to focus on how to build some time and experience. Now, my thoughts of how CAP plays is, is I would prefer to build that time doing some good giving back to the community rather than flying back-and-forth across town getting a burger.

    bgmasswy: What's wrong with a "good ol' boy mentality?" lol :)

    I guess to be honest, what NineThreeKilo brought up is kinda a big 'worry' of mine. I absolutely can't stand that type of person/group that pretends to be more than what they are.

    As for the price commitment, is it really just $70 new/$60 renewal? Again, that seems like an awfully low price for some flight experience. After just a quick talk with a local CAP member, he said they really deeded pilots and seemed to indicate I'd get at least a flight or two a week; Pretty darn good for only $70, if true...
     
  7. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    CAP has pretended to be more then they are, since the day they stopped dropping depth charges on uboats. You have been warned go check out the locals it is the only way to know.
     
  8. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    If you're referring to the cadet programs, I don't think CAP does a good job of that either. I was a cadet as a high school student and a senior member as a college student and private pilot. I was very underwhelmed with the whole thing. A lot of hype but the kids get sold a bill of goods. All I did as a cadet was march my rear off (came in handy in OTS 8 years later, but that's about it). The sell was that I was going to get exposed to flying via orientation rides as a youth. As a senior member the hook was access to airplanes for my time mentoring kids as a pilot and aerospace engineering student (the whole aerospace education angle).

    Neither materialized. The problem with that? Simple. We already have marching camp: it's called JROTC and the Boy Scouts of America. These kids largely want to FLY and get incentive flights. Let's just be honest about that. Conduits like the EAA Young Eagles do a heck of a better job getting these youngsters the stuff they all went sniffing around the CAP in the first place. If the motivation wasn't to get exposed to flying, then they would go to the Boy Scouts in the first place. So let's not pretend the non-aviation value of the cadet program is really all that by design.

    So yeah I concur with the gallery. If you want to fly, I'd pass on the CAP.
     
  9. NineThreeKilo

    NineThreeKilo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Uhh, if you fly the plane outside of a "mission" (which are VERY rare) we pay something like $50hr dry for a 182 with a loc and gs, non /G. This comes out to over a $100 a hr, not bad for a 182. HOWEVER you need to be in "uniform", cant leave the semi-local area, cant do overnights.

    IMO I'd rather rent a club 150 or something for less and have some adventures. Maybe rent a 172 for a ten bucks more a hour and do some angel flight missions.
     
  10. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    :yeahthat:



    When I retired in 2008 I thought the CAP would be a good way to use the experience I had garnered in my career, ( I retired as a CMDR. from the USCG, flew fixed wing and rotors and accumulated 9800 hrs of actual SAR Ops), and was unfortuanate enough to encounter a "hangar flying club" who treated the squadron plane as their personal ride and were more concerned with the symbology and "status" aspects than operational readiness. I attended one SAREX and during the debrief expressed honest opinions about training issues and was excoriated for not being "receptive".
    I have since met some CAP members that seem to be very mission focused and committed to the dual goals of education and service. Caveat Emptor.
     
  11. KeyWestPhotog

    KeyWestPhotog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is one of the many reasons I posted that CAP is not recommended if you are doing it just to fly.

    I am in a Squadron where I am one of two pilots. I can count on 1 finger where a flight was covered by CAP as a mission. Every other flight that has taken place has been paid for by someone else's $, not CAP.

    The area we are in has the opportunity to have ALLOT of Drug Op missions, as well. As Search & Rescue (boats/people coming from Cuba). I have gotten calls from a local Coast Guard pilot several times asking if we could come help on those types of missions quiet often as there is just to much open water for them to search/patrol. However when I call to get the aircraft released, I have always been informed that it will be a non-mission if I choose to go.

    There is ALLOT of "red tape" that you must go through before ever being PIC of a CAP aircraft as well.

    I can give you the in's and out's of CAP with straight forward facts and non biased opinions. It's best to call me as I will give you questions to ask your local squadron to see if they are going to be able to help you obtain your goals for joining.

    ------------
    CAP in summary: "If you just want to fly" you have 2 options, (1) Don't do it, (2) join a Seniors Squadron. "If you want to give back to kids" (1) Join a Cadet Squadron, so you can teach Aviation, provide mentorship, and actually help kids that want help. (2) Over time and using quiet a bit if your own $, when qualified you will be able to give kids Orientation rides, and introduce them to aviation. "If you want to do a mixture of both" (1) Join a Composite Squadron and prepare to realize because kids are involved here as well a majority of the squadrons focus will be on the kids, and the Seniors will have to be very involved with them, not just "hey they do their thing, and hey we do our thing"

    Some people have gone as far as labeling CAP as a club that you pay your own $ to be apart of, then you babysit someone else's kids, and you have to pick up the slack/fill the voids of where their parents didn't teach them basic life skills. This can be a very true statement/assessment. It just comes down to doing what I mentioned in my OP about looking at the 3 missions of CAP and seeing if the 3 of them for you in anyway. If they do fit you, then there is allot of searching, and question asking you need to begin to do before joining.





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  12. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Squadron I was in did a good job of getting $ for training flights. I believe it was air force money. If you know how to work the pump there is plenty of honey in the ground. Of course you better be in the right clique to consume those training dollars and while it is free flying it isn't free reign flying, had to play dress up and do something CAP related while flying around.
     
  13. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Another waste of tax payer dollars. :rolleyes:
     
  14. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yup. CAP is actually a perfect example of gov't stuff that won't die. Using civilian planes and pilots to harass uboats in WWII might have been a good idea. But of course the organization re-branded themselves to suck $ when the uboat menace ended. Most of CAPs news articles talk about re-branding themselves to exist in the future, nevermind what the country needs.
     
  15. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's one of those things that's local...where I am, rarely do I see anyone in a "uniform" beyond a polo shirt.
     
  16. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or for that same dry rate, you can also fly an up to date C-182/G1000. Don't need any permission for anywhere in you local state (some allow adjacent states too without any hassle), or just a phone call to say "Hey, I need to do such-and-such in Alabama, any problem? No, cool." Same for overnights.

    My flying uniform is a polo shirt and slacks.
     
  17. flyingmoose

    flyingmoose Pattern Altitude

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    Well I have many years flying with CAP as a mission pilot etc... Please understand that there is not really much funded flying in CAP anymore. There was a time when they would give you minimal proficiency flying time, but even then it wasn't much. Sometimes they will pay for your annual checkride "1hr." But even that has gone way with all the budget cuts. Have I gotten "free" flying? Yes probably more than most, but if you count all the BS and training I paid for, checkrides, and other extra activities... its not so free. With the advent of 406 elts there is not much S&R going on anymore. The organization is transforming into more of a disaster relief role. So if you can travel and don't have to go to work then when stuff hits the fan like say: the BP oil spill, you can go fly hundreds of hours doing photo work and such. I have known guys that fly 200hr a year funded, but that is def not the norm. The getting to fly process is lengthy and frustrating. Its not all bad, but I have been taking some time off untill I feel like going back. It is a Gov bureaucracy, and it carries with it all the PITA parts and it does spend money that we don't have.....
     
  18. Texastaildragger

    Texastaildragger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    How far do you live from a squadron? It can be a pain trying to get to a weekly meeting. To be a Mission pilot you need 200 hours P.I.C. And how much do you like paperwork? Cuz if you think a regular pre-trip can be lengthy you aint seen nothing. But there is some cool stuff, too. Like Alpine clinics or flying Anti-drug missions.
     
  19. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I joined the local squadron in september last year. The only 'paperwork' I can remember was a two page application form that went to the national organization along with a check. I have filled out longer forms to send my kids to a day-camp.

    There is a lot of 'death by powerpoint' as one of the senior members who showed me the ropes put it. You scroll through a powerpoint presentation and answer 10 questions taken from the presentation and the system creates another 'certificate of completion'. They all upload in the right spot in the 'e-services' website and once you have collected the right certificates, someone higher up signs you off for whatever 'qual' or 'award' you need.

    To fly PIC, all you need to be is a 'VFR pilot'. For that, you need to take a checkride to PTS standards with a CAP evaluator pilot (or interestingly a FAA inspector, dont think anyone has ever availed themselves of that 'opportunity'). Prior to the checkride you have a written test on the regulation that governs CAP flight operations and an open-book questionaire on the aircraft used for the checkride (useful load, CG calculations, max crosswind, performance calcs etc.). Took me a while to get the checkride scheduled, but that was a function of my work and travel schedule, not anything CAP caused. Once I had time and the weather was decent, it was just a matter of finding a mutually convenient time with the evaluator. Now I can take out a 182 for $37.50 dry and fill it back up to the tabs when I am done. There is a web-scheduling application and you have to punch a couple of numbers into a 'flight release' that needs to be electronically countersigned by someone with the right credentials after a phone-call. Don't think that is asking too much if they give you the keys to their plane.

    Now, to become a 'mission pilot', the guy who flies the plane during SAR missions or on contract work (e.g. for the state emergency management agency) is a bit steeper of a climb. The wing I am a member of insists that you go through the training for the other two crew positions before you can do the mission pilot training. A CFI who joined the same day I did is now a qualified mission pilot, so if you have time to participate in the 6 training missions required to get to that point, it can be done within a year.

    Once you are a mission or orientation pilot, you may get some flying paid for by others. Either it is CAP for the orientation flights for cadets, the air-force for orientation flights provided to JROTC members and some of the SAR missions.
    Now, based on where I live, there is almost no SAR work. You can't crash a plane in our part of the state without falling into someones backyard. The 'missions' are things like looking for overdue boaters or playing traffic plane for the state bridge administration.

    As for the uniforms and military courtesies. I am in a composite squadron. The cadets do their cadet things and the seniors do the senior things, the courtesies for seniors dont go beyond a 'good evening sir'. When I come from work, I am in my office clothes, when I come from home, I am in a CAP polo and grey slacks (if I drove the truck for the volunteer rescue squad I would wear their sweater and cargo pants, no different really).

    But no, dont join CAP to get 'free flight time'. Join CAP if you think it is a worthwhile organization that you want to support with your time and a little bit of your money.
     
  20. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What is your objection to the cadet program ? :confused:
     
  21. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    HighFlying380, you've asked a question that will definitely spur people towards their keyboards! In the end, though, you'll have to decide for yourself.

    One thing I don't think has been mentioned is that all your costs are tax-deductible. That includes mileage driving to meetings.

    As you can probably conclude from the various responses, the situation varies from squadron to squadron and from state to state. So if you decide to go ahead, visit all of the squadrons that are within your acceptable driving range.

    As several have said, the free flying is not all that common. Training weekends, called SAREXs, might get you two to five hours a few times a year depending on other pilots' wanting to fly also. Ferrying airplanes between squadrons and maintenance is free flying but in our state at least this tends to be done by an old boys' club largely made up of usually-available retired guys. They're not really trying to freeze others out, it's just that when a ferry is needed the old boys' club is in the ops guy's cell phone and he knows he won't have to make more than a couple of calls. The alternative, notifying all the pilots in the state of the opportunity, just makes the ops guys' lives more complex without providing them with any benefit.

    As has been said, the paperwork and BS is unbelievable. Every petty bureaucrat from the local squadron to the national commander has his requirements and has placed hoops for you to jump through. None of them care about how much of your time, collectively, this takes. It takes a lot.

    But --- it's the only place I know of where I can fly a half-million dollar airplane for $20-50/hour (depending on the state) plus fuel. If you're trying to build time, this (tax-deductible, remember) cost is the lowest you'll find. There are G1000 182s and IIRC 206s in mountainous states. Also lots of (cheaper) 172s, including newer refurbs arriving with G600 panels. There are also a few Gippsland GA-8s, which are interesting to check out in but boring and uncomfortable to actually fly for very long.

    Actual missions are infrequent. I have been on three in the last twelve months, probably a personal best. One, or maybe none, is more typical. If you are constrained by having a job, heavy mission participation is difficult. One of the missions, again unusual, ran for over two weeks.

    So -- join for the opportunity to build cheap, tax-deductible time. Don't join if you can't stomach petty bureaucrats and paperwork.

    Complete nonsense. The Air Force has the domestic inland SAR mission. Last week a friend and I spent 1.9 hours of 182 time chasing down a crashed 206 amphib. (No injuries, it was hidden in a hangar -- the guy didn't want to tell the NTSB/FAA about it but he forgot about the ELT. ) Had the AF not had CAP, this job would have been done by a Guard Blackhawk or a Guard C130. At what cost? I dunno. A hundred times more? A bunch of little airplanes, flown for free by guys is blue polo shirts that they've bought for themselves, is clearly the cost-effective way to go.

    (That's not to say that CAP couldn't be more cost-effective by, for example, focusing ONLY on the SAR mission. It could. But there's not a chance in Hades that the military could do the inland SAR mission at anywhere near even its current cost to maintain CAP.)
     
  22. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Before I went into the Air Force, I spent 5 years in the CAP. It was the greatest experience a teen-ager could have.

    Glenn
     
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  23. CaptLabrador

    CaptLabrador Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Says you. The squadron I am part of is nothing like this.
     
  24. ScottM

    ScottM Taxi to Parking

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    Before I went into the AirForce I dated a lot of girls. Trust me, that is a much greater experience than CAP!!! :D
     
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  25. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    You'll have to figure this out yourself. Join a squadron for a year or two and figure out what it means to you. Different people have different reactions.

    CAP does little SAR flying anymore, but most of the training is still oriented toward that. I think missions in support of Emergency Management have been 5-10 times more than SAR missions. Airborne Photography is a big push for the Middle East Region right now.

    In the end, you'll spend some money and find out what you think about the organization. You'll form your own opinion about it and go from there. If you love CAP, great. If it isn't to your style, you might check out the Coast Guard Auxillary's AirAux program, especially if you have your own airplane. Same deal with that, it's a different environment with different attitudes. Some love it, some hate it.
     
  26. wickedsprint

    wickedsprint Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ask how many missions they've been tasked with recently. I looked at one that had like 20 pilots for one airplane and had maybe one callout in last 6yrs. Opportunities to fly outside of training were VERY minimal.
     
  27. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Annoys is a better word. It's well known who the pilots are who only show up for free flight time during exercises. And people will not like you. Just sayin'.
     
  28. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Colorado is flying consistently with the forest fires and mostly State and local funded missions for tracking new fires and fire progress. It stresses volunteers since its weekday and most folks have normal jobs...
     
  29. Erice

    Erice Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The OP said he is a recent pro pilot college graduate, so I assume he is a CFI. CAP is a great place to meet other pilots who just may need flight reviews, IPCs, etc. Or if you have a composite squadron, you may find a young person who wants more flight training than the CAP provides, and who may hire you to teach them to fly, just not in the CAP plane, though. But it you have connections to an FBO who will let you bring them in as flight students, that could get you some flying hours.
     
  30. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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  31. KeyWestPhotog

    KeyWestPhotog Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That is the CAP uniform for the folks who don't meet the Air Force weight limits. Blue Polo w/grey pants.




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  32. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    For many it is simply a choice. I am not in the air-force, no reason to wear AF uniform.
     
  33. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    Or the uniform for those who aren't interested in the uniform thing. It's the only piece of CAP-specific clothing I own.
     
  34. ChrisK

    ChrisK En-Route

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    CAPR 60.1 par 2.8a: " CAP cadets and qualified SAR/DR mission pilots are authorized to use CAP airplanes for flight instruction toward any FAA certificate or rating."

    You are allowed to use CAP aircraft for primary flight instruction as a cadet (under 21 if joined under 18) or to pursue advanced training. If you are a CAP instructor pilot you can absolutely give instruction in a CAP plane to a CAP member under the above circumstances.
     
  35. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Are you kidding?
    The cadet program, of which I was a part back in the 1960's, repaid the tax dollars at least 1,000 to 1.
    Without exception, every person in my squadron was certified for SAR. We participated in 105 SAR missions, 5 forest fires, assisted the military on more than 80 public events, won the International Military Drill Competition 2 years in a row. (we competed against actual military teams from all over the world.) Every single guy, and most of the ladies went into the military or some form of national service and every single one of them, and I'm still in touch with almost every single one of the people I served with, is a hard working tax paying citizen. There isn't any other organization that can even come close to what the CAP Cadets accomplished. AND BTW This was in the mid 1960's, during Vietnam, when being in uniform was a huge stigma. CAP Cadets put up with a lot of social and political crap while doing their part for the community and the government.
    Cadets pay for their own uniforms and ALL their own expenses when they were doing SAR.
    I'd be happy if they took the entire Department of Energy budget and gave it to the CAP. At least we would have something to show for it.
     
  36. gprellwitz

    gprellwitz Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Have a listen to the most recent episode of Stuck Mic Avcast. They talk to Rod Rakic for about 45 minutes about his CAP experiences. Briefly, he really likes it, but explicitly suggests one should not join just for "free" flight time.
     
  37. soyAnarchisto

    soyAnarchisto Pre-Flight

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    soyAnarchisto
    I firmly believe there should be a pure civilian pilot sar program, similar to mountain sar and search dog organizations throughout the us. There are many pilots willing to give of their time and planes that want no part of an organization like the CAP.
     
  38. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    weilke
    It already exists in some places in the form of 'sheriffs aero squadrons'. Some of these organizations are quite capable, others are just a little club were guys like to get together wear a uniform and pretend that they are sheriffs deputies ;) . They are less restrained by regulations and at times assist in actual law enforcement duties, something CAP is restricted from doing. The downside is, they dont get planes provided by the air force and have to hustle for their own funding.

    In VA they have 'virginia airborne search and rescue', dont know how big operation they are and what their mission capabilities are . The main sponsor is the local helicopter school, there may be some element of creating flying opportunities for their commercial grads in it.

    Talk to your sheriff whether this is something he would be interested in. They are politiicans, anything they can put their name on tends to be of interest to them. Or is that not 'civilian' enough ? It is nice to 'firmly believe' something it is something else to make it happen.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013
  39. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    Radna
    I had been thinking of joining CAP too. I live in Phoenix but this year am spending a good chunk of time (2.5 months) near KRAP. Well, the "nice" CAP pilot at KRAP found out I have ~200hrs of 182 time and was commercially rated and going for the CFI. I'm told there are only 2 CAP pilots, him (who flies MD11's for FedEx so isn't home to fly CAP much) and this other guy. This guy really wanted me to join since they were short and since it would be an easy checkout in his eyes. Well, I don't particularly care for the other guy because of some of the comments he made to me and friends in the past but I figured if I needed an hour checkout in a straight leg 182 to fly missions (I'd love to help with fires, search and rescue.. heck even just giving cadets rides) since I have my own 182 to fly for fun. Well, the "other" pilot said no way could I just jump in a 182 with self-study G1000, he has 250 G1000 hours and isn't proficient. And since I don't want to spend even 10 hours in the airplane learning the G1000 when I could learn the VFR stuff on a sim I gave up. And here they wear their uniforms all the time, including the flight suits. No way. I would be one of those folks who avoids wearing the uniform at all costs.


    I've heard that things are vastly different in Phoenix, so maybe that's a possibility. I decided not to join, I'd rather devote my time to Angel Flights at this point.
     
  40. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    weilke
    Yeah, it'll be a bit more than a 1 hr checkout. It is not 10 either, a Cessna G1000 course with 2hrs in the plane and their ground-school counts. I dont know how SD handles it, but to be mission pilot you would still have to do at a minimum the scanner training, 2 mission pilot training flights and 2 checkrides. I know one guy who joined in Sioux Falls, he made it to mission pilot in a couple of months.

    It is a shame that you gave up, because those rural squadrons that are short on pilots are where you get lots of mission flying done. In western SD it is not like in MD where every village constable has a helicopter at his disposal and the different agency air assets have to be kept from bumping into each other if an aerial search is needed. In the plains, aerial search means an ad-hoc posse of one of the farmers in his Maule with a deputy in the right seat (who may be on his first airplane ride).