National Emergency Services Academy and USAF Pilot Preparation Program
National Emergency Services Academy and USAF Pilot Preparation ProgramLt. Col. Russell Smith, CAP Douglas County Composite Squadron
The USAF PPP (Pilot Preparation Program) was attached to the CAP NESA (National Emergency Services Academy) Mission Aircrew School in Columbus, Indiana for 2019. There were two sessions, 19-01 which commences July 13 thru July 20 and 19-02 from July 20 thru July 27.
Participants included USAF Officers ranging from 2nd Lieutenant thru the grade of Captain. Most of these officers had very little or no flight time previous to enrolling in the program. The program was designed to strengthen basic aviation skills, enhance that knowledge of aviation through developmental modules which included actual flight simulator time. This "beta" program was funded by HQ USAF and operations were coordinated by the Air Crew Task Force under the USAF Operations Plans and Requirements. This program potentially may be managed in the future by AETC. The program developed as a direct result of General Smith offering assistance to HQ USAF in response to looking for innovative ways to increase pilot recruitment.
CAP has conducted NESA since 1996 to provide for Emergency Services training to its membership who may not otherwise have an opportunity to obtain this training in their home units or states (wings). During PPP CAP was conducting 5 other schools. CAP flew a total of 372 sorties for 590+ flight hours over the two week period for 56 USAF personnel. CAP had a total of over 1200 flight hours during the two weeks which included the other NESA schools. Other NESA schools were ground team, radio operator, mission pilot, mission aircrew (scanner and observer), mission base staff personnel and even UAV training.
Instructors from CAP for PPP were from all over the US and were selected based on wing recommendations from polling conducted earlier in the year. Each instructor had 2 students who rotated from front to back seat during the training for maximum exposure to aviation. Tom O'Connor and Russell Smith were selected from Nevada WIng to participate.
The syllabus included ground school training. a series of 5 flights of 90 minutes each as student pilots and an additional 5 flights in the rear seat of the Cessna 182T as an observer and flight "simulator" time in a classroom set up. The flights consisted of typical "pre solo" flight maneuvers that are common to aviation training programs. Each USAF officer had successfully completed a commercially available private pilot ground school "online" home study course before arriving at Columbus for the flight portion of training. The typical "day" included a morning "mass" briefing for the Mission Aircrew School of Weather, airport operations, mission radio procedures, and review of emergency and normal operating procedures for the aircraft. Students then broke into groups with their instructors for one on one briefing on the flight operations planned for the day including a review of the 182T POH, emergency procedures, AIM and FAR review as well as other pertinent materials. The duty day was typically 10 hours with time in the evenings to operate the aviation training devices that were available. Personnel from the Flight Safety and Red Bird were on hand to facilitate this portion of the training.
There were 38 CAP aircraft assigned to the school including Cessna 172's, Cessna 182T's and GA 8 aircraft for scanner/observer training. CAP had onsite maintenance for airframe, power plant and avionics. Additional volunteers helped in flight release duties, air operations and radio communications. The airfield had an Air Traffic Control tower and on some days the operations count was over 200.
The students were from all over over the world and had responsibilities in a wide variety of Air Force functions but all had in common a desire to increase their test scores to be selected for Undergraduate Pilot Training. As this was a BETA program, no pictures were allowed and some of the personnel involved are in various classified USAF operations.
Nevada Wing was well represented at NESA in other mission schools including DAART and Incident Command as well as the Pilot Proficiently Program. It was an intense week from the beginning to the end but extremely worthwhile. The end result of how well the school performed will be determined after the students take the various examinations for UPT but the initial feedback has been very positive. It certainly demonstrated CAP's ability to be a part of the Total Force Concept. for the USAF as the program including active duty, reserve, CAP and civilian components.