CAP aircrews fly more than 100,000 hours each year in operational missions.
The typical CAP aircrew has 3 positions:
- Pilot: The pilot is responsible for one thing – flying the plane. CAP missions involve many different kinds of challenges to a pilot. Homeland Security reconnaissance, transporting medical personnel, supplies, and organs, counter-drug reconnaissance, damage assessment are all missions that a CAP pilot can fly. Pilots perform some of CAP’s most important work.
- Observer: The observer sits in the front right seat of the aircraft. The observer assists the pilot with communications, navigation, and traffic avoidance. The observer is sometimes considered the mission commander. The observer will also be involved in keeping an eye out for the search objective when there is spare time.
- Scanner: The scanner’s main responsibility is to keep his/her eyes out the window. The scanner will be the one looking for the search objective, performing counter-drug or homeland security reconnaissance, taking aerial photographs, or performing damage assessments. There are typically 1 or 2 scanners on board an aircraft sitting in the back seats of the aircraft.
CAP typically flys single-engine, high-wing aircraft which are ideal for the variety of missions CAP fly. In fact, CAP owns the largest civilian fleet of Cessna aircraft in the world.
Recently, CAP has started to upgrade the fleet with new aircraft. We are starting to receive new Cessna aircraft with glass panels. We are also acquiring Gippsland aircraft (pictured below) equipped with hyperspectral imaging systems.
If you’d like to become a CAP pilot, you must be at least 17 years of age and hold a valid FAA private, commercial or airline transport pilot certificate. You must have a Class III or higher medical certificate and a current flight review. You’ll have to satisfactorily complete a flight check with a CAP check pilot and pass a written exam. You’ll also need to complete aircraft questionnaires for each plane you’re qualified to fly.