TYNDALL AFB, Fla. --
As the deputy commander of the Continental U.S. Aerospace Defense Region climbed into the cockpit of the Civil Air Patrol Cessna 172 recently, he saw a few things changed since his last flight in this type aircraft as a Canadian Air Cadet almost 33 years ago.
BGen Alain Pelletier, CONR Deputy Commander, got the opportunity to see those changes when he flew an orientation flight from base operations here May 2 along with Florida Civil Air Patrol Wing Lt. Col. Larry Fernald. The CAP flight was planned to help orient the general to Civil Air Patrol operations in the region such as Eglin fire watch and search and rescue operations.
“Seeing the evolution from dials to the glass cockpit and the global positioning equipment was all quite interesting and offered great situational awareness capabilities,” Pelletier said.
During the pre-flight brief, Fernald, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran pilot of the B-52 Stratofortress, F-111 Aardvark, B-1 Lancer, and OV-10 Bronco, explained the mission details to include the fire-watch route, areas to avoid and drew diagrams to depict different search and rescue aerial flight patterns.
Lt. Col. Archer Yates, 1st Air Force CAP liaison, described Fernald as one of the Florida Wing’s most experienced instructor pilots.
“For me, one of the real highlights was to fly with someone who had such a breadth of aviation knowledge and flying experience,” Pelletier said. “The ease with which CAP executes this mission is incredible as their flawless integration with the military controllers was evident as we went from one control zone to another during the flight.”
Overall, he said he was extremely pleased with the experience.
“There’s no better way to understand the CAP mission than seeing it first hand, not to mention there’s no better way to start your week than going flying!” he said.