Does anybody else have problem with Civil Air Patrol (CAP) pilots at their airfields?
At my home field at Barrow County Airport in Winder, Georgia, they [Barrow-Jackson Composite Squadron] are literally the “Barney Fifes of the sky.” If somebody is screwing something up around our airport, you can set your watch by the fact that it’s a CAP flight. They don’t listen to the radio, fly non-standard patterns (if they even fly a pattern), conflict with other traffic, and are just generally a PITA. Latest example:
PILOT 1: “Cessna 1234, turning left crosswind, runway 23, Winder”
PILOT 2: “Experimental 9876 midfield left downwind, runway 23, Winder”
ME : “Flight Design 509CT turning left base, runway 23, touch-and-go, Winder”
CAP: “CAP 5555, three miles north, maneuvering to enter a right base for runway 23, full stop, Winder”
ME: “Uh, CAP flight you have three airplanes making left traffic for 23, including traffic on left base. Is it still your intention to make a right base for 23?”
CAP: “Affirmative. CAP 5555 making right base for 23.”
ME: “That’s really stupid, and against the FARs. I think you should do something else.”
CAP: “CAP 5555 is overflying the field, we’re going to enter a left downwind for 23.”
I don’t usually call people out on the radio, but this “pilot” was endangering three other flights with his foolishness. Plus this was about the last straw for me with CAP flights. I’m done being nice to those guys when they are causing safety issues for everybody. This is not one mistake, this is a pattern of reckless and dangerous behavior. Everybody at my home airfield is fed up with these guys. I’m not the only one.
The interesting part is that Andy got the pilot’s attention. After a long pause apparently he decided to follow a prudent course of action and break off the right base approach. However, did he decide to fly over the field at pattern altitude and then join left downwind?
If the pilot felt he was doing the right thing why then did he break off and do something different?
Better to call the guy ‘stupid’ and get their attention than be involved in a collision. Sharing the airspace with an idiot is unfair to anyone and everyone, including those on the ground below.
Makes no mind how wonderful the CAP is as an organization…it’s the one member in the plane flying towards you in the pattern that’s the problem.
One idiot certainly doesn’t ‘cast a pall’ over the entire organization….but an accident caused by them certainly would. A chat with their commander would also go a long way to alleviating the continuing ‘problem’.
Maybe I’ll try to find the commander and have a chat. It’s hard to know who that would be, since there are several CAP outfits in the general area and I don’t know which airport they fly out of. Next time (and believe me, there will be a next time) I’ll get the tail number.
One of the local CFIs heard the exchange and applauded me when I landed, and we had a long frank discussion about the situation. He said he’s had many issues and a couple of close calls with them, and thought the local CAP pilots are not proficient. So I know I’m not the only frustrated pilot around here regarding CAP.