Search & Rescue - Air

Perhaps best known for its search-and-rescue efforts, CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Just how effective are the CAP missions? Nearly 100 people are saved each year by CAP members.


An exciting and rewarding part of joining the Civil Air Patrol is the opportunity to serve our community and indulge our passions for aviation in one place. Being a pilot is not necessary to contribute as a member of an aircrew. There are other jobs to fill on the flight deck such as
  • Mission Pilot ( Transport Mission Pilot, and Orientation Ride Pilot)
  • Mission Observer
  • Mission Scanner
  • Aerial Photographer
While it is not necessary to be a certificated pilot to join an aircrew, it does help to have the desire to be in our aircraft. You can become a mission scanner sitting in the back seat of the aircraft without any prior aviation training. The course curriculum and qualifications to achieve the scanner rating will familiarize you with the basics of aircraft function and flight safety, and of course the tasks required and how to integrate into a valuable member of the flight crew. For photo reconnaissance missions the Aerial Photographer is the crew member responsible for principle photography when properly trained and rated.

The Mission Observer serves as the Mission Commander and a more thorough and higher level of knowledge is required to sit in the right seat of the aircraft and work with the pilot-in-command to plan the flights, handle communication equipment, and navigation and SAR equipment.

And of course, pilots are always welcome at Knight Composite Squadron as one of our strengths is the short commute to the Leesburg Executive Airport.

Pilots transferring in from another CAP squadron will be credentialed in accordance with CAPR 60-1.

Becoming A Civil Air Patrol Pilot

Pilots new to CAP will be mentored through the program to achieve various CAP pilot qualifications. Initially, pilots current and proficient in the aircraft will be given a CAPF 5 (Form 5) check ride by a CAP evaluator (instructor pilot). This is normally completed in either a 'steam gauge' Cessna 172/182, or a 'glass cockpit' Cessna182T G1000. The G1000 upgrade will normally require 3-4 flights prior to sign off.

Upon designation as a VFR or VFR/IFR CAP Pilot, a new CAP pilot may become eligible to conduct Cadet Orientation Flights (O-Rides) and be designated a Transport Mission Pilot (TMP), the first step in Mission Qualifications.

Before becoming a fully trained Mission Pilot, a new CAP pilot must complete training as a Mission Scanner, and then may wish to complete training as a Mission Observer. The Specialty Qualification Training Records (SQTRs) for each of these is listed below.

The SQTRs list Prerequisites (General Emergency Services Training/Age), the Commander Approval for PreReqs, the Familiarization and Preparatory Training (F&Ps), Cdr's App for F&Ps, Advanced Training, and Exercise Tasks (2).

Although the Scanner and Observer training should be very manageable for an experienced pilot, the Mission Pilot Exercise Tasks often include more than two flights for training and evaluation.

In general, your initial check ride expenses (and any refresher training) will be out-of-pocket, but subsequent mission check rides may be funded. Any proficiency flights you wish to do once you have taken your initial Form 5 are also out-of-pocket, but fortunately the wet rate is about half that of the local FBOs.

More information on becoming a CAP Pilot

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