Pros/Cons of Joining the Civil Air Patrol?

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

  1. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There was a proposal at one point to put CAP under DOT, I think it was, instead of the Air Force, but it wasn't very popular, and nothing came of it.
     
  2. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In 23 years as a CAP member, I have yet to hear anyone refer to me by rank, or demand to be referred to by their rank. Of course, the practices could be different in other units, or other parts of the country.
     
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  3. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No, NIMS is not a set of policies and regulations. Every Federal agency has them, not just the Air Force. Just, they don't rely on an inapplicable UCMJ in their structure, have a much flatter hierarchy, much looser uniform rules (not too different from the polo shirts), and a civilian workforce with a lot of mobile assets to manage.
     
  4. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Cleared for Takeoff

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    That is extremely common in volunteer organizations, and promotes a lot of incompetence and self serving attitudes. That wouldn't be exclusive to CAP.
     
  5. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    Eactly. In many cases these are people who do not have power and prestige in their day jobs for a reason. Some make stellar managers, given the chance, in a volunteer organization but most do not. It's a bit of a puzzle. You really can't live with them because of the problems some cause, but you can't live without them because they do a disproportionate amount of the work.
     
  6. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The source is that CAP started out as part of the military and had a military mission. I believe the organization and it's mission have sufficiently changed to do away with the military structure on the senior side.
     
  7. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You become a Lt in the fire department because you have the required experience, graduated the fire-officer course and you have a position of leadership on the fireground. You dont gain that rank by just sticking around long enough and clicking your way through some powerpoints.
    Contributing to the mission of the organization should be motivation enough, no need to offer colorful ribbons and ornaments. It would make so much more sense to rank members by qualifications and ratings rather than a parallel military rank that doesn't carry any command responsibilities with it.
     
  8. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    He might be talking about actual organization management, but oh lord... the stories I've heard about NON-emergency FEMA procurement and management procedures would make me NOT want to touch that as a "good model" with a ten foot pole... FEMA has a pretty good thing going with ICS, but that's Operational stuff. Day to day, I've never seen any evidence that FEMA is any better or worse than any other FedGov project or agency.

    Well, other than maybe the fact that they're either way better at not having their computers and websites hacked, or they're not as willing to admit it in public as the others are. :) And maybe a tiny bit of urgency in actually getting stuff done slightly faster than others, since some of the stuff they order and stash, keeps humans that vote from dying. But even most of that is just sub-contracted.
     
  9. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Wouldn't bother me when I was working for them, but everyone in the organization knows the two aren't related. If you're crazy enough to think grade means something, you get a lovely surprise when a Senior Member with no grade at all -- tells you that you don't have the requisite qualifications to even be ON SITE at a real mission, and it's time for you to leave now...

    "Someone missed something really big at your squadron somehow about explaining your training and qualifications needed to be here, and I'll have to give you a call when this is over in two or three days, and explain if they can't. Give me your phone number. And here's mine. If he's not busy, call your Commander or Training Officer also. They can probably explain before I will have time to get back to you. Please sign the log that you were here and leave an estimate of when you'll arrive home with the cadet at the table over there... SIR. Thanks. Sorry. Have a nice afternoon." :)

    (I've actually had that conversation. Bye bye... time for you to go home now...)
     
  10. jimson

    jimson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You have about convinced me to look into joining CAP. Sounds like fun.
     
  11. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    The organization was incorporated in 1946 and continues to operate as the Air Force Auxilliary, so the military connection is still the same as it was 70 years ago. The missions have changed as technology changes, but it has not significantly altered. I cannot think of any event which would cause anyone to recommend changing the paramilitary structure.
     
  12. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Maybe.

    But there are quite a number of insiders who think the rank structure is silly, because it doesn't mean anything.
     
  13. mtuomi

    mtuomi En-Route

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    A teacher with PhD or EdD will make $95 after 30 years of service in Teton County. Teachers with Bachelors degrees cap out at $69 after 20 years.
    The people making money are the admin people at schools. Principals cap out at 130ish, "Finance directors" can make just over $160.

    Teachers are not the ones who are overpaid. Making less than $100 a year with a doctoral degree is not that great. Benefits are fine of course (employer pays about 14% p.a for pension), but people who are in it only for the money choose other careers than teaching.
     
  14. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Might change that to say, "has been Chartered by Congress as the Air Force Auxiliary" not just "operated". Makes it sound like they have a choice. They don't.

    And Congress also removed the funding pipeline through the AF long long ago, and funds it directly. If the funding flowed through the USAF, they'd happily keep all of it and buy a single toilet seat or hammer for the annual CAP budget.

    The rank structure means exactly one thing: You met the requirements of that rank.

    In some specialties those requirements are fairly extensive. In others, not. You have to meet the requirements of your specialty track.

    Since you can change specialty tracks, someone would have to go look up how you earned it.

    But as a military grade structure, no. It doesn't work and never has. Volunteers don't have much reason to take orders from anyone, if they don't want to. They can just leave.

    You're quoting Ben from February and he hasn't been here in months. You resurrected a very dead thread.

    Same thing: Ben isn't here.
     
  15. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    That is their right. I am quite familiar with the argument, but it isn't going to change. They obviously aren't bothered too much by it or else they would be outsiders.

    Rank is some small indication of knowledge, but we know that experience and operating are what counts and we know who those people are.
     
  16. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix Pattern Altitude

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    My experience with my local CAP..

    Me: "Hey, I'm interested in joining."

    Them: "Okay."

    Me: "...So what do I need to do?"

    Them: "I'll call you Monday night."

    Me: "Unfortunately I work Monday night. Would Monday morning or Tuesday work for you?" *no reply* "Hi. Just checking in. Was wondering about that phone call." *no reply* "I'm still interested in joining. Please let me know how what I need to do."

    and like that...

    [​IMG]

    he's gone.
     
  17. brian109

    brian109 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm just here eating my popcorn. Can't we all just fly and get along
     
  18. jimson

    jimson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sorry, I got it mixed up with the more recent one.
     
  19. MichaelO

    MichaelO Filing Flight Plan

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    There's no "cons", per se. If you don't like the outfit you're with, just quit. no biggie.

    It's all local, everyone is different, squadrons are different depending on mission. Some have cadets, some are senior only, and all have planes. Go to a local meeting, see if it's a match or not. Easy-peasy.
     
  20. sgenie

    sgenie Filing Flight Plan

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    I fly for Auckland Air Patrol, New Zealand Coastguard and I love it. Great time, great aircraft, great people - my only wish is to fly more often (no ill-wish here, though!) :)
     
  21. GPaulHendo

    GPaulHendo Filing Flight Plan

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    Wish I read this before joining CAP in 2014. Back then there were no senior squadrons in my state, so I decided to take a chance with the composite squadron that was closest to me. I attended every meeting for 2 months straight but stopped going simply because I was getting bored. Being a composite squadron it was very kid oriented. I got nothing against the kids but I just had no interest in helping out with the cadet program. Meetings were pretty uneventful. Senior members would show up and spend the entire time listening in on the cadet meeting just because there was nothing else for them to do. The commander was nice guy. Rest of the leadership was only there to look important and to assert “authority” they wouldn't normally have in real life. I allowed my membership to lapse after the first year. Long story short, if I'm ever going to rejoin CAP, it'll be with a senior squadron.
     
  22. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The composite squadron I was involved with wasn't like that. Both the senior program and the cadet program were thriving, and although I'm in a neighboring senior squadron now (because of which night it meets on), from what I can tell, this is still true.

    It's hard to generalize about squadrons; they tend to be individual in their characteristics.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  23. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Take a look at these links - two sides of the coin; one with a bone to pick, the other mostly defensive outrage.

    http://auxbeacon.org/

    http://captalk.net/

    I flew for them for about 14 years, and hit my limit on nonsense and bureaucracy, but that's a personal threshold, and very much subject to the unit you end up with. At the Wing level and above, there is no doubt there are some real sketchy ethics in play. Varies quite a bit from sqdn to sqdn, however. If you asked me whether to join or not, I'd say it's worth taking a look, as you may walk into a sqdn with their act together. You'll know pretty quick. From a pilot's point of view, I'd pass - but again, that's me, and what I experienced in MD Wing, which is probably middle of the pack in terms of quality (or lack of) management. You can certainly skip a lot of the military wannabe aspects - in 14 years of flying I got by with a polo shirt and gray slacks; wore a blazer exactly once, to support an event; maybe 10% of members are wankers, same as anywhere else. Pilots cover the specturm, from military, ATPs, low-time GA guys, just all over the place. I probably would not recommend it for your kids or grand kids; too many cretins have slipped through. . .
     
  24. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    They hit my personal threshold this year with a ridiculous burst of CYA in revising the flight regulations and the flight release procedures, to the point that I don't think I could run an effective mission (Air Branch Director) and stay within the rules. Not to mention that it requires me to treat the air crews as children whose every action needs to be carefully monitored and second-guessed. National then doubled down by instituting a ridiculous and demeaning Air Crew/Pilot Code of Conduct comprising over thirty items including such brain-dead elements as: " aspire to professionalism"

    My membership expires at the end of August. That's the end for me.
     
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  25. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    I'm a pilot, own an airplane, member of CAP. However, I do not fly for CAP, altho I've very much like to fly the ORides for cadets. But I'm not interested in the overbearing rules for flying. Hence I sit in the backseat as Mission Scanner/Photographer and am very happy. My official squadron position is Aerospace Education officer (was IT for the wing but quit doing that) and unofficial wing (state) AE (I have the time to do the outreach). Much more fun. Polo shirt and grey slacks. Wore the blazer once as AE speaker at a non-CAP conference.
     
  26. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Weird, isn't it? CAP never seemed very pilot centric to me, either, though the aircraft are the primary reason for its existence. . .of the 6-8 MPs that were in my old squadron, only two remain in CAP, and I hear from them what you just wrote, as well. There was some fun flying, but also way, way too many 14 hour days and getting .9 Hobbs out of it, with the rest spent on adminsitrivia, or clumsy and disorganized "planning". There were some very good folks, too, of course. . .but we lost a lot of them - we had a CFII, ATP, MP, very professional, generous with his time, but wasn't in the "inner circle" - he waited over a year for approval to be a CAP IP and check pilot. They just let him slip away. Plenty of stories like that, of course. You can get in the "club", and get some decent flying, but the politics are too thick for my taste. . .
     
  27. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I hate to say it, but FEMA/DHS would probably be the most productive venue for CAP.
     
  28. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Yep. I said that years ago for the aviation assets and the seniors that want to fly SAR, disaster relief, photo missions, etc. The element (both cadet and senior) that wants to play air farce can continue to do so without those that actually want to serve a real mission.
     
  29. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Wrap the cadet component into AFJROTC. CAP(DHS) can still provide the familiarization rides just like they do for JROTC now.
     
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  30. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    I don't think CAP has a real air mission any more. Just in the eight years or so I have been involved, the bureaucracy has been increasingly suffocating to effectiveness.

    I doubt that there are many wings who can get a SAR effort even minimally started in less than four hours any more and if that four hours is in the afternoon, then it is pause-button time until the next morning. In that time the state patrol helicopter, probably equipped with a FLIR, has handled the problem. 406 ELTs and ADS-B are and will be further reducing the SAR need.

    On the photo side, there is no national leadership, no national systems, and, laughably, a carry-back-still-photography paradigm. A couple of high school kids with drones can beat CAP in time and in quality of results on almost any mission. Emergency managers are also developing their own drone capabilities.

    Really, the only mission left where CAP could possibly be timely and cost-effective is the anti-submarine mission, but there has not been a lot of call for that recently.
     
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  31. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just to give non CAP pilots an example, in order to just stop for fuel you have to file a new sortie and spend 20 minutes getting released for it (because the new 70-1 is so extensive). Common sense says there's no safety issue with letting someone shut down for 10 minutes to get fuel without having to re-release them but CAP makes you do it. It's that kind of pointlessness that grates on you. It also costs the wing money because there are times when I'd be happy to buy cheaper fuel but won't because of the hassle. I'd also be willing to self-fund more flights (CAP is always complaining that the planes don't get enough hours on them) if it were made easier to get in the air.

    I honestly don't know what NHQ is thinking sometimes or what's motivating much of this stuff. They'd do better and save a lot of money by structuring it more like a flying club, making it much easier to self-fund flights for fun or proficiency, and streamlining the red tape on funded missions.

    But that's never going to happen.

    Honestly, the most valuable thing from CAP for me was the relationships I've built with professional pilots who've helped me in that regard. That's been worth the frustration to this point, but that won't be a draw for most.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  32. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There is no reason for the US government to fund a flying club. If CAP provides a service to the AF or other units of the government that is of value, it should be fully funded, training missions and all.
     
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  33. Tantalum

    Tantalum Pattern Altitude

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    I joined for one year, thinking itiwould be a great opportunity to meet local pilots and be a part of something where aviation could give back so to speak. However after attending all the meetings week after week faithfully I found that the sheer amount of bureaucracy and paperwork was just overwhelming..

    Plus, it seems like there's a mountain to climb over, before you can even sit in an airplane as a "mission observer." Pretty ridiculous if you ask me.. And there were limited flights to begin with, and those were generally taken up by the existing core group. I let my membership lapse and would not recommend to join for anyone else unless you were looking to be a part of a bureaucratic organization and have no real interest in flying but enjoy filling out reams of paperwork for the shot at potentially sitting in the backseat of 182
     
  34. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Quite a few embarrassing scandals, too - some funny, some real creepy, and some just bizarre. FBI raiding CAP HQ in the 90's, I think; a national commander cashiered for having someone else take USAF tests for him, porn actors in sqdns, mentoring cadets; terminating members who reported fraud/waste/abuse, forging a CFI's endorsement, then "firing" the guys who called it out; just a litany of stop, stumble, and fall gaffs. Again, most of that happens above the sqdn level though, so the impact on rank-and-file is minimal, except for the embarrassment, of course.

    But: if you find the right location, get inside the Wing center of gravity, you can get a lot of time built; you'll have to invest in some meeting attendance, get the lay of the land, figure out which sqdn is "favored", etc.
     
  35. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    It helps the costs if people are self-funding and paying the dry rate while the plane isn't flying as part of a mission. CAP wants at least 100 hours a year on each plane and funded missions don't cover that. At last years pilot meeting for our wing, the NHQ guy was there and was begging people to do more self-funded flights.

    All I'm saying is that it'd be easier to hit that mark if self-funded missions were made easier to accomplish (i.e. let me stop for freaking fuel without having to file a separate sortie).
     
  36. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    Some wings are better then others.

    MSWG has actually had pretty good funding the past three months for pilot proficiency + cadet flights.

    I was lucky in that my squadron wasn't worried about playing AF and it was fairly easy to get through the qualifications. One meeting a month and a polo. MSWG also doesn't have a lot of pilots in the end, so there's not a fight for funding like I'm sure bigger wings have.
     
  37. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Again, if I drive a fire-engine or ambulance for a training event, I pay neither the fuel nor a mileage charge to cover the maintenance. I volunteer my time, they give me the tools to get the job done. It is absurd to expect pilots who volunteer their time to support CAPs mission to pay their own way.

    The root problem is the lack of a mission. Everything else follows from there. If each CAP squadron was out once a week on a mission of some sort, there wouldn't be much room for the buerocracy to grow.
     
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  38. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What squadrons are those? I’d transfer and be active again in a minute!
     
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  39. Eric Gleason

    Eric Gleason Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Transport to and from a formal training activity is paid for from training funds. By “self-funded missions” he’s referring to any of the various reasons why you’d take the airplane out on your own: currency, profiency, instrument training, non-funded training missions, etc.

    I agree totally. It’s been a long time since CAP had focused purpose, and now is just flailing around looking for a reason to exist. Here in NY the state police have taken over the primary SAR role for a missing aircraft search. There is a very occasional need to go track down an ELT, but in 20 years that went from something we did several times a week in my group alone to something that happens several times a year through the wing.
     
  40. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude

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    Quite funny actually. Every year they put more obstacles in the path of anyone wanting to fly. More forms to fill out. More absurdity in the flight release procedures. It never stops. The problem, really, is at NHQ: When you're covering your ass with both hands, it is very difficult to do anything productive.

    CAP's corporate culture is based on the rule: "All my subordinates are children." Nothing demonstrates this more than their latest insults to members: https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/pr...rew-professionalism/aviators-code-of-conduct/ and https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/pr...crew-professionalism/aircrew-code-of-conduct/