Danville Civil Air Patrol drone pilots fly exercises with Air Force

In June 2021, seven Civil Air Patrol members from the Danville Composite Squadron earned their drone pilot qualifications.

Recently, two of them exercised their training along with manned aircraft in an Air Combat Command exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton.

”After a great deal of practicing in our squadron, this was a great experience for me as my first mission with Civil Air Patrol,” Danville Squadron drone pilot 1st Lt. Charles “Chip” Isackson said. “I was very impressed with the professionalism and expertise from the other more experienced [than me] members of our team and I really learned a lot from everyone there. I believe the work we did will make a big difference in the next conflict American finds itself in.”

Danville’s Capt. Kristie Morris, who leads the small unmanned aircraft system program across the commonwealth for Civil Air Patrol (Virginia Wing), appreciated the opportunity to contribute to the development of systems.

“We earned our Civil Air Patrol sUAS ratings about 18 months ago,” she said. “Since then, we have continued to advance our skills. Our training allowed us to us stay focused and fly the mission objectives. It was great to collaborate with National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Range Safety Officers and we learned from each other. We will continue training, so we are ready for more missions for America.”

The exercise, coordinated by Air Combat Command’s Agile Battle Lab, was designed to prepare A-10s for the 355th Wing for future deployments, as well as test new counter tracking technologies. The wing flew pre-coordinated sorties around the base’s airspace and other airspace. Air Combat Command’s new technology was put to the test in tracking Civil Air Patrol’s assets which were used to emulate red force UAS and adversaries.

“CAP has a long history of supporting the warfighter, rooted in our World War II missions of target towing and coastal patrol,” Col. Liz Sydow, Virginia Wing’s commander, said. “I am proud of the skill and professionalism demonstrated by our members and the opportunity to assist the U.S. Air Force as a Total Force partner.”

Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.

The Virginia Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, with 22 squadrons spread throughout the Commonwealth has approximately 1,800 members, 12 light aircraft, and 29 multi-purpose vehicles.

Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force.

Special to Register & Bee