[Editor’s Note: In March 2014, 1st Lt Rob Cote reported flight safety violations and whistleblower reprisal to the Rhode Island Wing Inspector General and the Northeast Region IG and later, Rafael Robles, the General Counsel at National Headquarters. All of it was ignored. We have the exhibits and evidence that prove that Lt Cote had legitimate concerns. Flight safety violations are being covered up by CAP National Headquarters to give the public and USAF a false perception that the CAP has a safe flight record. While there are exceptions, cadets in many CAP wings are being flown in questionably maintained aircraft and with unsafe pilots]
Lt Col Philip G. Hirons
RI Wing Inspector General
This letter is to serve as intent to file an official complaint with the CAP Rhode Island Wing Inspector General and the NE Region Commander, and the NE Region IG, in accordance with CAPR 123-2 Section 7. This complaint will contain allegations of discrimination, lack of due process, and conduct unbecoming against RI Wing Commander Col Richard Hill. This complaint will be supported by specific facts and timelines and will further be supported by interviews of other members.
FACTS OF THE CASE
1. As of 23 Feb 2014, Lt Rob Cote was a current mission pilot in good standing in the RI Wing.
2. As of 23 Feb 2014, Maj Richard Courtney is a member of the RI Wing, not a current CAP pilot and does not have a current form 5 or form 91, and was the RI Wing FRO.
3. On 23 Feb 2014, Lt Cote entered sortie A001 B12 member paid mission into WMIRS. Lt Cote contacted FRO Maj Courtney for a flight release and was instructed by Maj Courtney to change the mission symbol to B17. Lt Cote did as he was instructed to do and re-entered sortie A003 under mission symbol B17. Lt Cote paid the member fee for the aircraft on that date with check # 2217, and for fuel under invoice # RAC-14-39787.
4. On or about 20 March, 2014, Col Richard Hill, by email, did suspend all of Lt Cote’s flying privileges for the period of one year for entering the 23 Feb 2014 flight as a B17 mission (NCPSC FLIGHT CLINIC).
5. On 22 Feb 2014, Maj Richard Courtney did operate CAP aircraft 9935L in direct violation of CAP regulations. Col Hill was advised of the issue but as of this date has taken no disciplinary steps against Maj Courtney for his willful intent to violate CAP 60-1.
The complainant alleges in count one that during the time period of 23 Feb – 20 March 2014, Col Richard Hill made no attempt to notify Lt Cote that there had been any type of error in the WMIRS system. Col Hill did in fact circumvent the operations department and the DO was not notified that there had been any discrepancy in the entry into WMIRS. Col Hill, without due process, without affording Lt Cote an opportunity to explain the facts of the flight entry, or to discuss the issue, Col Hill did in fact by email, suspend all of Lt Cote’s flying privileges for the period of one year for entering the flight as a B17 mission. Col Hill’s actions would indicate that he has a personal vendetta against Lt Cote as the sanctions imposed upon Lt Cote were unusually harsh and unnecessary, as the cause of the aforementioned violation was due to Lt Cote following instruction from a senior ranking member and FRO.
The complainant alleges in count two that Col Hills actions are discriminatory for the fact that during the time period of 23 Feb – 20 March 2014, Col Richard Hill was notified of the actions of Maj Richard Courtney who, on 22 Feb 2014 did in fact violate a number of CAP regulations for operating a CAP aircraft without a current and valid form 5 in the absence of a certified CAP flight instructor. Col Hill did not impose any sanctions on Maj. Courtney or the other occupant of the aircraft, while Lt Cote, for following Maj Courtney’s directive, was suspended of all flight privileges for the period of one year, by Col Hill. His actions can only be seen as a personal attack.
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF COMPLAINT
During the above noted time period there are two issues that should have been addressed with
all parties by the wing commander, director of operations and the standard eval officer. First, the suspension of Lt Cote’s flight privileges was completely unjust as Col Hill made no attempt to contact the operations department, the standard eval officer, or the accused Lt Cote to obtain basic fundamental information about the issue at hand. Had Col Hill taken the basic steps of investigating a potential problem, he would have been informed that Lt Cote entered the incorrect flight symbol on his second WMIRS entry, due to the fact that he was instructed to do so by a ranking member and FRO. At that time, to remedy the mistake, the entry simply needed to be updated to reflect a C12 mission. Ironically, the previous day, FRO Maj Richard Courtney did in fact enter a member paid C12 mission. Since in fact FRO Richard Courtney approved the flight without any question, Lt Cote should have been held free of any wrong doing. Col Hill however, over reacted, and without due process suspended Lt Cote and has harmed Lt Cote’s outstanding record of commitment to CAP. The WMIRS entry for the aforementioned date of 23 Feb 2014 is attached as EXHIBIT 1 and serves to substantiate COUNT ONE and also as evidence of the change made by Lt Cote as ordered by FRO Courtney.
The second issue which serves as evidence to support Lt Cote’s claim of discrimination, unusually harsh punishment, and personal vendetta, is that during the same time period, Maj Richard Courtney did knowingly and willfully commit serious violations of CAPR 60-1 by operating CAP aircraft 9935L on 22 Feb 2014, in the absence of a valid CAP form 5 and/or in the presence of a certified flight instructor. Col Hill was notified of the issue and did not impose any sanctions on Maj Courtney for these willful gross violations, yet did in fact impose unusually harsh sanctions on Lt Cote for following the instructions of FRO Maj Courtney. The evidence to support Lt Cote’s claim of discrimination, lack of due process, and conduct unbecoming is prima facie and can be supported by the testimony of the director of operations and the standard eval officer. In further support of COUNT TWO, Lt Cote provides the email conversation with Maj Courtney about the 22 Feb incident and is attached as EXHIBIT A.
In view of the actions of Col Hill, several senior members and pilots have now become untrusting of the current command, have resigned from key positions and have signed a petition indicating that their activity in CAP will be limited until the current climate has changed. See attached petition labeled EXHIBIT 2.
The undersigned hereby swears to the accuracy of the aforementioned statements and requests a complete and thorough review of the matter.
Lt Rob Cote
2 April 2014
Philip G. Hirons
[Rhode Island Wing Inspector General]
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