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CAP Pilot Earns Prestigious Aeronautical Rating

May 7, 2021

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(Sioux Falls)—Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Captain Brandon West, of Tea, has surpassed 1,000 hours as a pilot, earning CAP’s “Senior Pilot” aeronautical rating. West learned to fly as a “cadet” in CAP’s youth program in 2013. Today, he is a pilot for CAP’s search and disaster relief missions.

"Reaching 1,000 hours is one of those goals you shoot for as a pilot,” said West. “I never would have been able to achieve that without my start in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program. CAP is where I took my first flight in a single-engine aircraft at the age of 13. From my first flight, I knew I wanted to become a pilot.”

While still a cadet, West was hired at Lincoln County airport in 2013 where he got his pilot certificate. Outside CAP, he is a CFII flight instructor and commercial-rated pilot. In CAP he is Operations and Emergency Services officer for CAP’s Sioux Falls Composite Squadron and has an ever-growing list of flight-related qualifications.

“Flying is not just a hobby for me, it is one of my passions,” said West. “As a mission pilot and a flight instructor, I get to share that passion with others and help them achieve their goals."

CAP is the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, with responsibilities that are part of the USAF’s support civil authorities. In addition, CAP promotes aerospace education and its cadet young program develops leadership among youth.

“Capt. West is a great example of the commitment to service we find across the board in Civil Air Patrol,” said Col. Nick Gengler, commander of CAP’s South Dakota Wing, who himself first joined CAP as a cadet. “His enthusiasm for aviation makes it no surprise to me that he has accomplished the Senior Pilot aeronautical rating. I’m confident that CAP’s Command Pilot Rating, requiring a total of 2,000 hours of pilot time, is in his future.”

CAP has over 400 members in South Dakota with units in Brookings, Custer, Miller, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea. The wing can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams and small search drones to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies.

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