Ascension Parish Civil Air Patrol Squadron visits Baton Rouge Airport tower

Captain Ken Best, CAP / Guest Contributor
From the left: Lt. Col. Marvin Owen, Lenny Smith, Baton Rouge Airport Tower Supervisor, CAmn Gabriel James Carter, C/SAmn Jesse Fox Garon, Major Ken Brummett, CAmn Isahk David Lachney, 2Lt. Michael Scott, C/A1C James Tanner, SM Devin Brooks.

On Saturday, August 24, 2019, members of the Ascension Parish Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol which operates at Louisiana Regional Airport at Gonzales visited the tower at Baton Rouge Airport.

A major function of Civil Air Patrol is Aerospace Education. That involves training about all aspects of general aviation. Since CAP flies Cessna aircraft as a usual part of its operation, knowledge of all aspects of aviation management is necessary for safe operation.

A part of every flight from a controlled airport involves communication with ground control and the tower. This visit was intended to show members of the squadron how airport and enroute management of aircraft is actually performed.

The tower at the Baton Rouge airport has two distinct work areas. The personnel on the lower level receive information from aircraft as to their call sign, aircraft type and destination. This information is entered into the Air Traffic Control (ATC) computer to allow tracking of that aircraft. Squadron members visited with the personnel performing this duty to see how it was actually done.

There are several different phases of flight beginning with a preflight of the aircraft, taxi instructions from ground control, takeoff clearance, enroute travel, approach to destination and landing. All of these phases of flight must be controlled.

At many smaller airports where there is no tower these functions are left up to the pilot. A "See and be seen" concept is in effect for those types of airports.

After visiting on the first floor and learning about how this information is entered into the air traffic control system, squadron members went upstairs to the tower where tower personnel can actually see the aircraft they are controlling. When a pilot contacts ground control for taxi instructions they speak with a person in the upper portion of the tower. From there they talk to the tower controller who releases the aircraft for takeoff.

After takeoff they are then released to a departure controller who can then follow their aircraft as they proceed on their route. Many of the CAP members have spoken with the tower personnel for years as part of routine flying. This experience gave them the opportunity to put a name and face with a voice.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force's Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually.

CAP's 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.

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