Mission Observer Training

Mission Observer Training

13 Jun 2014

TheĀ Mission Observer qualification is one of the most critical steps in aircrew training for CAP members. The Mission Observer (“MO”) is the link between the safe operation of the aircraft and the conduct of the assigned mission, and the MO frequently serves as “mission commander” aboard the plane.


In order to begin training as a Mission Observer, members should have the General Emergency Services qualification, be 18 years old, and be a qualified Mission Scanner. To see your progress on your Specialty Qualification Training Record (“SQTR,” pronounced skeeter), go to eServices and select “My Operations Qualifications” (click the link to go straight there), then choose “MO – Mission Observer” from the list of Achievements. Once these prerequisites are completed, ask a member of the squadron command staff to mark approval so that you can continue your training.

Familiarization and Preparatory Training

Familiarization and Preparatory training (or “F&P,” but usually just called “ground training”) provides you with skills and knowledge for the role of the Mission Observer. (The next phase of training–in the aircraft–will focus on putting that knowledge to use.)

The ground training for Mission Observers builds directly on the training for Mission Scanners. If you qualified as a Mission Scanner some time ago and/or you haven’t had many opportunities to practice your Mission Scanner skills, you may want to review the Mission Scanner text from the National Emergency Services Academy.

Mission Observer ground training covers three basic areas:

  1. Mission Observer duties;
  2. Mission planning; and
  3. Weather and hazards to flight.

The gold standard curriculum for Mission Observer training comes from CAP’s National Emergency Services Academy (“NESA”) Mission Aircrew School. Before attending ground training, it can be very helpful to review the Mission Observer/Mission Pilot reference text.

It is strongly recommended that Mission Observers and trainees have NESA’s Operational MissionĀ Inflight Guide available during training and during the conduct of any aircrew responsibilities. This reference includes everything you would need while conducting a mission and includes lots of things that we are responsible for knowing, but often can’t master in one or two sessions, like tarp signals and complex search techniques.

At Sugar Valley Composite Squadron, we use an abbreviated powerpoint as the basis for this training; each instructor may expand on the presented material with his or her own experiences as a valuable way to introduce trainees to the wide range of Observer duties. You can view this slideshow as a preview or refresher below:

After your in-person training, the instructor and/or a member of the squadron command staff will sign off your training on your SQTR. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to make sure your training is properly logged.

Advanced Training

Advanced training for Mission Observers is mostly conducted during a minimum of two training flights, but there are three additional tasks that the trainee must complete:

  1. IS-100 (the introduction to FEMA’s Incident Command System);
  2. IS-700 (introduction to the National Incident Management System, which includes ICS, public information standards, and multiagency coordination); and
  3. Aircraft Ground Handling.

Note that because the IS-100 and -700 courses are administered by FEMA and not CAP, when you receive your certificates for completing those courses, they must be uploaded to the “My Operations Qualifications” module and noted in your CAP record. An Emergency Services Officer can help you complete this task.

Mission Observer wings, which are distinguished from pilot’s wings by an extra ring in the center medallion, will be awarded after the qualification is completed.

At any time after the completion of your ground training and certification by a member of the squadron’s command staff, you can work with a Mission Pilot to schedule training flights.



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