Known best for locating lost hikers and downed aircraft, the Colorado Wing of Civil Air Patrol has been a long time partner of many emergency responders across the state.
But a recent “cluster” of safety incidents put a not-so-glamorous spotlight on the state’s 2,000-member organization, forcing it to suspend normal training operations, including air training activities, for 30 days.
According Mike Daniels, a Colorado Civil Air Patrol spokesperson, the wing was grounded by its regional headquarters in early February after a series of human error incidents caught the attention of superiors.
He went on to add that administrative groundings, as in this case, are not unusual at all, and that it has happened before for simple things such as paperwork deficiencies.
“This was nothing more than an anomaly,” explained Daniels who said the suspension was officially lifted March 20. “These incidents occurred in a relatively close time frame and that’s what caught the attention of the regional headquarters.”
Dubbed a “get well” plan, Danielson said that during the stand-down all members were required to complete a series of specified safety training activities and briefings appropriate for their rank, position and particular skill.
Daniels notes that among the reported incidents, there were no injuries and no damage to property.
Local pilots and others close to the CAP say while that may be true, some of those mishaps that put people and aircraft at risk could have been prevented.
One incident described involved a Civil Air Patrol plane that departed a neighboring airport took off with a tow bar still attached to the nose wheel.
The pilots, once aware of the situation then flew to a neighboring airport and ask observers in the tower to verify the problem.
The oversight put others at risk of it dropping from a high altitude, and the pilots at risk had it made contact with the propeller.
While Daniels could not recall specifics, he confirmed the incident, reiterating the wing’s effort to refocus itself on safety and safety procedures was paramount.
Although regular training activities were suspended, Daniels said at no time was the wing ever unable to fulfill its official obligations.
“As a matter of fact, we participated in a U.S. Army search and rescue exercise during this time,” he said.