On 22 May, S³/KBFS Crestview graduated C-208B Class 19-02, composed of four Cessna Caravan pilots from the C-208B Airland/Airdrop Mission Instructor Qualification Course. These individuals will take their newly acquired knowledge of the Cessna Caravan overseas where they will immediately begin training their host-nation counterparts. A first for Crestview was running simultaneous training in two separate courses; the aforementioned airdrop course ran simultaneously with the still ongoing RC-208 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Class 19-03, comprised of four USAF pilots and mission system operators (MSO). Over the next 2.5 years, S³, Inc and KBFS will supply dozens of qualified Air Force Instructor Pilots, Loadmasters and Mission System Operators to the Air Advisor program, ultimately ensuring the success of this vital mission overseas.
The Cessna 208B Caravan is a highly versatile aircraft that features a powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6A-140 engine producing 867 shaft horsepower (shp): the aircraft is capable of hauling up to 14 passengers or 3,692 pounds of cargo. The ’Van can even be equipped with floats for amphibious operation. Originally designed with a round dial or “steam gauge” cockpit in 1981, starting in 2008 the aircraft came equipped with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit from the factory. The aircraft was intended for hauling passengers and cargo, but was quickly adopted by the military and given the designation of U-27A. Since that time, the Caravan’s mission set has expanded to include airdrop, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and ISR (designated the RC-208B for Afghanistan); attack versions (the AC-208 “Combat Caravan”) are currently being operated by numerous countries.
S³/KBFS’s Caravan training courses are designed in a modular fashion to allow the customer to essentially “choose their own adventure.” Typically, the government students attend FightSafety International’s tried and true Caravan simulator training in Wichita, KS. With this course under their belt, students arrive in Crestview, FL to begin live flight training in S³/KBFS’s aircraft. Upon arrival, all students attend Qualification/Instrument training; this is where the students learn the basics of operating the aircraft safely. Once this first phase is complete, the students’ progress to the tailorable mission-specific training, including airland and/or airdrop or ISR. Optional courses are also offered, including mountainous flight and night vision goggle training (NVG).
With the success of the current Caravan program and the previous Pilatus PC-12NG courses (which ran from 2014–2018), rising demand is driving continued growth in Crestview. The US Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) is gearing up to send even more students in 2020 than in 2019. Additional work from the nearby Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is anticipated as well. Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH) will continue to sponsor a minimum of two Mexican military and law enforcement classes each year as well. To meet this added demand, Crestview has secured a lease on a second aircraft and hired two additional part-time pilots.
For additional information, please contact Marcel Benoit, C-208, PC-12, MD530F and Mi-17 Training Program Manager.