[Editor’s Note: We received this midday on the 16th, but needed to verify the email because we are often targeted with false statements. Thank you for the contribution and the reminder.]
Your site already has a few comments on this, but I think it helps new readers to have someone tie it all together. To make it easy for you, I spent an hour or so reviewing our tactic of delivering a “protective CAP coating” to the public. This is done through journalists who cannot be very aggressive with a uniformed representative who may or may not be retired military. They can only pass along the words of the auxiliary’s commanders or public affairs officers. Here’s the problem:
After decades of fraud and abuses that harmed members up all levels of the program, Civil Air Patrol has entered a graveyard spiral in the new media fog. Instead of the leadership righting the ignorance, arrogance and core value navigation problems for the long instrument cross country, some members are being used as disposable tools to apply an illusory correction for the 24hr news cycle. This only tightens the spiral and increases CAP’s rate of descent to the point of impact.
Your readers zeroed in on the story out of New York titled “Quick-thinking pilot helped save cadets after Geneseo plane crash.” A slacker’s search will show that this three-word introduction is common media boilerplate and enforces public expectation that our pilots are somehow special, mentally sharp, skillful professionals. This is just. not. always. the case.
Also in that story, according to the unnamed public affairs officer for the New York Wing of Civil Air Patrol, “airplane crashes are extremely rare no matter the state or location, and fatal ones even more so.” Here in California, we had 27 fatal general aviation accidents last year.
From earlier stories, we know that whatever the Civil Air Patrol Commanders and Public Affairs Officers deliver in eulogy, the NTSB can take away with its final report. When the two narratives are shown to be radically different, this makes the organization and its representatives appear deceitful. It would be better to say nothing at all until the end of the investigation.
To make this point, I’ve cobbled together some of your stories already laid out here.
Morphine Civil Air Pilot Lies, Crashes & Dies
The original report stated that two CAP pilots were taking part in a four hour CAP training exercise near the Taunton Municipal Airport when their single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft suddenly experienced mechanical difficulty and crashed. However, post crash toxicological tests revealed that the PIC had a toxic level of morphine in his blood. By examining the rate at which the morphine was metabolized, one can conclude that the drug was probably taken in flight, apparently for emergency relief from a migraine headache. The source of the morphine is unknown, as neither of the pilot’s physicians had prescribed it. A review of past applications for medical certificates revealed that under question 18a, “Medical History, Frequent or severe headaches”, the pilot had checked the NO block. In addition, question 19, “Visits to Health Professionals Within Last 3 Years”, showed only visits to the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). The visits to the doctor who prescribed the Fiorinal were not listed.
Four Florida Civil Air Patrol Members Killed in Crash
“Positive statements made by the CAP unit commander to the press were later proven untrue in the investigation. A CHECK OF THE WEIGHT & BALANCE INFO SHOWED THE ACFT HAD BEEN LOADED APRX 114 LBS OVER ITS MAX WT LIMIT. RADAR DATA SHOWED THAT JUST BEFORE THE LOSS OF RADAR CONTACT, THE PLT HAD MADE TWO RAPID 180 DEG TURNS.”
Civil Air Patrol Cadet Flight Instructor Crashes & Dies with Passenger
“Civil Air Patrol commanders and public affairs officers made glowing reports of Matt Shope, while being careful to distance the Civil Air Patrol from the July 23rd 2011 accident if not Shope’s training, which appears to have been done by Civil Air Patrol. Civil Air Patrol commanders and PAO’s really talked him up, before the NTSB revealed the probable cause of the accident on November 7th 2012.”
CAP Aircraft Crashes into Powerline in Residential Area
“…Civil Air Patrol is not mentioned anywhere in WSFA Channel 12’s coverage of the accident. Nor is CAP mentioned in the NTSB database record of the accident. Our contributors are suggesting that this is a classic Civil Air Patrol cover-up. This CAP glider was also involved in the fatal crash caused by Civil Air Patrol pilots in 2014 at LaGrange Airport, GA. CAP Maj Jim Matthews, Virginia Wing Group 3 Commander agrees with our contributors’ assessment. He stated: ‘If I were the reporter and a Wing PAO tried to convince me that a glider incident – resolved successfully and publicly – involving a cadet pilot was FOUO and that I should leave CAP out of it, after I stopped laughing I would immediately file a sidebar story about the Wing trying to suppress the details of the story.'”
Elderly Civil Air Patrol Pilots Flip Cessna at Fallbrook
“On August 24th 2016 a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182Q landed on the runway at Fallbrook Airpark, but ‘ran out of space.’ The pilot made a left at the end of the runway and the plane rolled over, fire officials said. The two occupants inside, a 77-year-old man and a 79-year-old man, suffered minor injuries.”
Pacific Region Vice Commander Dies in Crash of Personal Aircraft
“A pilot rated witness familiar with operations at O69 was on the deck of the airport office monitoring common traffic advisory frequency when he heard the accident pilot radio ‘Petaluma ground, Mooney taxi to Runway 29’ he then observed the airplane taxi to runway 11.”
Georgia Plane Crash Kills 3 Peachtree City Men
The day after this fatal accident, Civil Air Patrol’s Lt Col Dave Mitchell circulated an email stating the following
On Sunday, February 23, 2014 4:23 PM, Mitchell David wrote:
I will not speculate what was going on in their cockpit, I will leave that up to the professional investigators whose job that is… We had been operating since about 0950 Saturday morning in strict compliance with CAP and FAA regulations first on runway 21 and then when the winds changed on runway 3 (for takeoffs, landing in the opposite direction). Throughout our operation as is our custom we were making radio calls regularly, both tow plane and glider, if anything to excess. We had finished our cadet orientation rides and were preparing to conduct an annual flight evaluation of one of our glider check pilots (we are required to have a check flight each year). I was in the rear seat (CFIG), the check pilot (PIC) being evaluated was in the front seat(CFIG) and the tow pilot was a CFI. We are all retired military aviation officers with 80-100 years and tens of thousands of hours of experience among us. The tow pilot announced on the CTAF that “CAP 931 is departing runway 3 with glider in tow” and we began our roll. We had rolled about 1000 feet when the tow pilot announced “GLIDER ABORT, ABORT, ABORT”. The glider front seat pilot (PIC) released the tow immediately and maneuvered the glider to a stop before ever entering the intersection of 13/31. The tow pilot also braked hard and maneuvered the tow plane to a stop in the grass to the left side of the runway before ever entering the intersection of 13/31. As all of this was taking place from my seat in the rear out of the small window on the right of the Blanik I got a flash of the aircraft close to the ground roll left and disappear from my view. The tow pilot called for emergency vehicles which immediately responded. When we jumped out of the glider I saw that the aircraft had crashed. At no time did the tow pilot or the pilots in the glider hear any radio calls from that aircraft or any other aircraft prior to our launch.
No matter the confidence, arrogance or military hours, the reality is that these pilots did not follow required procedures and the outcome was a $12M Judgment and a $10M settlement for a total of $22M.
District Court Rules Civil Air Patrol Negligent in 2014 LaGrange Airport Crash; $12M Judgment
On August 3rd, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Newnan Division delivered a 41 page ruling on this accident. It found that Civil Air Patrol breached its duty in its glider operations at Lagrange-Callaway. It neglected a risk of collision by failing to use a spotter despite the obstructed views between the runways. Such a duty to make its flight operations safe existed irrespective of the applicability of the local airport rule requiring a spotter during glider operations. The CAP pilots failed to yield the right-of-way to the Baron, as required by 14 C.F.R. § 91.113(g). And as previously discussed, see supra Part I.H., the CAP pilots apparently did not announce their flight plans over the CTAF, and they either did not hear or failed to appreciate the Baron’s announcement over the CTAF that it was preparing to land. In these ways CAP breached the duty of all pilots to generally act with reasonable care, and specifically to cede the right-of-way to landing aircraft.
The first link will provide you a way to verify the email. The second link is to a document stash that your editors may find useful. Both links will be live until 2359 UTC on July 17th.