How to become a CAF Pilot

Be-A-Pilot ColorGraphic2Note- This is general information to become a CAF Pilot. Additional information is available and all seriously interested candidates are encouraged to contact a local unit or the CAF directly at 877-767-7175.

This information is subject to change at anytime at the discretion of the CAF’s VP of Safety/Maintenance/Operations.

1. Join the CAF

Joining the Commemorative Air Force is the first step to getting involved and keeping these magnificent aircraft flying. You do not have to currently be a pilot or have a military background in order to be a member of the CAF. Many member’s become pilots after joining the CAF. In order to participate at the unit level, one must first become a CAF Colonel, to do this go to www.CommemorativeAirForce.org/membership or call 877-767-7175.

2. Requirements

If you aren’t already a licensed pilot, you need to be first in order to fly CAF aircraft. Several members pursue a pilot’s license once they join. Spending time at the airports and knowing many pilots often makes that process easier. Aircraft types have different training requirements including flight times

3. Ground Training

In order to work with the CAF’s aircraft, we require our volunteers to be familiar with the aircraft and our organization’s operation policies. Each year CAF units offer ground training for the aircraft, generally in the late winter early spring, one must be a CAF member to attend ground school, but does not have to be a pilot. There are many crew positions needed on an aircraft which require ground training, such as a scanner, loadmaster, engineer and more. If you are interested in attending a CAF ground school, please check the CAF’s online calendar at www.CommemorativeAirForce.org/calendar for additional information.

4. Paperwork

The process of becoming a pilot includes completing/having the following paperwork. Request for Aircraft Qualification, A Flight Experience Resume, the necessary FAA certificates, medical and latest Biennial Flight Review (BFR), A hold harmless form and a Sponsor letter. (These documents are available to CAF members, click here to login for these forms) This information is then reviewed by the CAF Unit’s Flight Evaluation Board (FEB) for approval. The paperwork is then forwarded to CAF Headquarters for review and approval. A transition letter will be issued for the candidate to proceed with flight training.

5. Flight Training

Once you are qualified by the Flight Evaluation Board, you can then complete your flight training and receive a check ride for your qualification level. There are different levels of qualification depending on the aircraft you wish to fly and how you wish to fly it. 

6. Sponsorship

You do not have to be a pilot or mechanic to become a sponsor or member of the aircraft team. The highest level of aircraft support is the Aircraft Sponsor, who for a donation of from $1,500 to $10,000 becomes a sponsor of a chosen aircraft and is eligible for selection as a pilot-in-command or other flight crew member, if he or she is qualified. Many non-pilots chose to become Aircraft Sponsors to express their support of a favorite aircraft, realizing the expense of keeping them flying. 

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Flight Time Requirements

The following defines the minimum requirements to receive a CAF pilot rating; tail wheel experience is not required for tricycle airplanes. Tailwheel aircraft, pilot must have 10 hours and 10 landing in a tail wheel aircraft in the last 12 months (Fighters 10 & 10 in the past 6 months).

  • Liaison/Primary up to 300 HP- 200 Hours
  • Basic Trainers/Single Engine up to 550 HP- 300 Hours
  • Adv. Trainers over 550 HP- 500 Hours + 50 Hours retractable gear 50 Hours Tail Wheel time (T-28 5 hours in type)
  • Fighters- 1,000 Hours (500 Single Engine, 200 Tail Wheel, 100 T-6)
  • Multi-Engine less than 12,500 - 500 Hours + 100 Hours Multi-Engine PIC
  • Co-Pilot Multi-engine over 12,500- 500 Hours + 25 hours as PIC in TW Aircraft + multi-engine rating
  • Pilot- 1000 hours with 500 as ME PIC + 25 Hours in Make and model
  • Check Pilot- Should be a current Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) with FAA and CAF ratings appropriate for the aircraft; unit request for check pilot ratings will be reviewed by the Operations and Standards Evaluation committee. The number of check pilots at one location in the same aircraft will be limited. Check Pilots may give instruction.
  • Instructor Pilot- Must be a current CFI with FAA and CAF ratings appropriate for the aircraft; unit request or instructor pilot ratings are reviewed by CAF Operations. Instructors in multi-engine aircraft can give co-pilot check rides.
  • Command Pilot- Authorizes the pilot to fly formation in multi-engine aircraft; a current TRARON card and multi-engine formation check ride is required. This rating is not make and model specific and is not required for formation in aircraft less than 12,500 lbs. GW.
  • Command Pilot Single Engine - Authorizes the pilot to exercise a Statement of Aerobatic Competency; a check ride is required after approval of the Stan Eval Committee.
  • Senior Pilot- Authorizes pilots to fly in airshows; requires one flight in an airshow observing a Senior Pilot and one flight in an airshow being observed and subsequently recommended by a Senior Pilot. Note: this is not aircraft specific.
  • Pilot- Authorizes PIC and SIC duties
  • Co-Pilot- Authorizes SIC duties
  • TRARON Qualified- TRARON stands for Training Squadron One, this group provides formation training and certification for CAF Pilots. To get this qualification one must be a current TRARON member with a valid TRARON card. This qualification allows for formation flight in waivered airspace and non-waivered. TRARON determines instructor and check pilot requirements. Information about the TRARON training program is available at http://www.traron.org/
  • CAF Formation Qualified- This rating  allows for formation in CAF aircraft in non-waivered airspace. It also allows for CAF members flying  non CAF aircraft to fly formation with CAF aircraft. This rating will be issued for either a two-ship flight only or for a four-ship or larger formation. All training will be documented on TRARON formation forms. This is an annual renewal qualification as flying large aircraft in formation requires special training.

Qualification Types

If you have additional questions, you are encouraged to contact the Chief Check Pilot at bcooksey@cafhq.org

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