BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Mid-Air Collision Avoidance is an important topic within flight safety across Barksdale. Committed to the safety of the local aviation community, Barksdale joined forces with the Shreveport Civil Air Patrol for an official Air Force assigned mission focused on keeping local aviators safe.
MACA is a program where members of the 2nd Bomb Wing flight safety office travel to various airports spreading general awareness of hazards in the area, helping local aviators avoid mid-air collisions through preparedness.
“The way that we used to do these MACA trips was that we’d call the airports, get into a government owned vehicle and we would physically drive to all the airports,” said Master Sgt. Steven Vance Jr., 2nd BW flight safety superintendent. “Doing it that way, we as flight safety, never saw the aspect of what the local aviation community was seeing coming in and out of these airports in relation to Barksdale.”
Due to limitations on flights to different airports, the effectiveness of safety guidance was limited. Because of this, safety hazards couldn't be completely determined, until now.
As of May 28th, the CAP and the Air Force as Total Force Integration partners successfully conducted and transported Air Force personnel across Louisiana to meet MACA mission requirements for flight safety in the aviation community.
“We partnered with the CAP, which cut out a lot of time but more importantly, partnering with them has created more of an awareness with the pilots that are flying the planes,” Vance said. “By flying into the airports we listen to the radio calls the civilian aviators make and listening to them will help us make our program stronger.”
MACA visits are conducted at various airports within a 50 nautical mile radius of Barksdale in which the CAP is tasked to move military personnel to help support Air Force mission safety requirements in different locations.
“MACA flights are a great way for general aviation to be aware of Barksdale’s mission and the aircrafts that they fly,” said retired Lt. Col. Richard Gerhardt, CAP-USAF region operations director. “It also helps Barksdale and their flyers understand where and how general aviation flies.”
Before the actual mission was conducted, the Air Force submitted a request to the CAP for support in the general aviation field, which just so happens to be a CAP specialty.
“My job is to tie all the pieces together and make sure it’s done per the law, through Air Force instructions, and make sure that it meets the CAP regulation requirements and capabilities,” Gerhardt said.
As a recently developed joint force mission, there were certain guidelines that had to be implemented to meet the Air Force’s and CAP’s regulations.
“This was a new Air Force mission to fly MACA flights so it took about four months to finally do,” Gerhardt said. “It took longer than usual since we had to go through the legal process of defining what this mission is, because at first glance it may seem like it’s a transport mission but it was more than that, we are moving Air Force personnel to meet mission safety requirements.”
The CAP support on MACA flights has been approved as an official Total Force joint mission. Region operations directors like Gerhardt can advise Air Force bases they oversee and other federal agencies that this is a program they can utilize on their MACA missions as a new CAP capability.
“In the past, these visits would take weeks to do if not months, including expenses for TDY and per diems but now with the CAP we’re able to fly the flight safety specialists in a general aviation aircraft,” Gerhardt said. “That’s going to give flight safety better situational awareness as to what their interests are in that airfield.”
It’s not common to create new Air Force-assigned missions often, especially at a national level. The persistence and energy that both the Air Force and CAP had for working together have proven to be a successful combination of pride and dedication to getting the mission done.
“It makes me feel great to do this, I hope we’re able to continue in partnership with the CAP for future MACA endeavors,” said Vance. “Special thanks to wing leadership for letting us pursue this, we had leadership backing us and if they wouldn't have empowered us to be able to do something like this I don't think it would have ever happened.”