Brian Fabry, a manager at Omaha’s Approach Control Facility, took part in an orientation flight on July 31st with the Omaha Composite Squadron. The purpose of the flight was to familiarize controllers with the local flying area, learn more about CAP’s mission, and to gain perspective about pilot workload. After completing a normal preflight walk-a-round, Fabry and pilot, Major Dave Coover reviewed approach plates and briefed the flight. During the mission, Fabry set up and monitored RNAV (area navigation) approaches on the G1000 integrated flight instrument system. He also made the majority of the radio calls to ATC. Fabry commented that he “…was surprised at how busy the cockpit gets,” especially near the larger airports. Approaches were flown at Omaha’s Eppley airfield as well as the Tekamah, Fremont, and Millard Nebraska airports.
Fabry is one of the newest managers at the Omaha ATC facility and is always looking for ways to enhance job satisfaction and excitement among his controllers. He is currently investigating the feasibility of flying new controllers with CAP pilots as a part of a local area orientation. Fabry believes that “…CAP’s aircraft provide the perfect training platform because their advanced avionics closely mimic systems found in larger aircraft.” Other potential orientation topics include airmanship, emergency procedures, local geography, and instrument approaches. Controllers are trained extensively on instrument procedures during their time at the Oklahoma City training center, but Fabry noted there are no actual flights in an aircraft as a part of their syllabus. After the flight, he commented that he “…really gained a lot of perspective” about the pace of cockpit tasks.
Finding a funding source for ATC orientation flights will be a challenge, but Fabry feels that it is definitely worth investigating. “Controllers that have actually flown the instrument procedures for which they direct aircraft dozens of times each day obviously have a fuller perspective than those who haven’t had that opportunity, ” Fabry said. He also is glad to know that the Omaha Composite CAP Squadron is willing and eager to work with Federal agencies like his. He plans to begin searching for ways to develop a working relationship right away.
Civil Air Patrol, the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft, including 6 in Nebraska. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans.