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Aviation Training Overview

Safety First

The world of Aviation is exciting, fast paced and demanding. It is also potentially very dangerous. The most important aspect of the AUXAIR program is flight safety. The various rules and regulation necessary to insure safety are spelled out in the manuals cited below and in the Federal Aviation Regulations. Although AUXAIR flight operations may involve more rules and regulations than those that other private pilots must follow, they are designed to give us a greater margin of safety while performing missions more demanding than most general aviation operations. The Aviation Department holds regular training workshops and activities to keep all AUXAIR aviators up to date on issues involving AUXAIR administration, operations and safety. When flying for AUXAIR under orders, qualified Auxiliary pilots, while assigned to duty, are considered to be Coast Guard pilots, and Auxiliary aircraft, while assigned to authorized duty, are deemed to be Coast Guard aircraft. This means that, to be a member of AUXAIR it is not enough just to know how to fly; AUXAIR pilots must be able to fly the Coast Guard way. This entails a greater level of thoroughness in flight planning, in airmanship, in crew coordination and in all aspects of flight safety. It also involves certain procedures and paperwork, all of which is necessary for AUXAIR to perform its function of assisting the active duty Coast Guard. When AUXAIR flies, we have extra safety equipment and extra safety procedures to offer greater protection than the average general aviation pilot may have. However, the most important piece of safety gear each AUXAIR aircraft can have on board is a well-trained crew.

Becoming qualified in the Auxiliary Aviation Program - AUXAIRAerial Photograph

To become involved in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Aviation program (AUXAIR), applicants must complete the Auxiliary Air Operations Training Program. The first step a person interested in AUXAIR should take is to get in contact with a member of the Aviation Department Staff, (ADSO, DFSO or DSO). The AV Staff member will make sure that the prospective aviator has the correct information on how to proceed through the qualification process.

In general, the qualification process involves study of the appropriate manuals, passing a written test (or tests) on the contents of those manuals, and demonstrating the ability to perform various tasks. The importance of contacting a member of the AV-Dept staff cannot be over emphasized.  Although the requirements for participation in AUXAIR are spelled out in detail, they may be obscure or confusing to those not already familiar with the Auxiliary or with the field of aviation.

Aviation is a relatively small part of the Auxiliary, which is, of course, primarily about boating safety. It’s important that prospective aviators remain in contact with the “Aviation Experts”, on the AV-Dept staff, to ensure that they are guided through the qualification process correctly.

Here are the initial steps to be followed in becoming involved in the interesting and rewarding world of AUXAIR:

  • Join USCG Auxiliary
  • Become Basically Qualified (BQ)
  • Complete the Personnel Security Investigations (PSI)
  • Complete ICS 100 & 700 courses
  • Contact a member of the Aviation Department Staff (ADSO-AV, DFSO, DSO-AV)
  • Download the appropriate Manuals
  • Download the Auxiliary Observer Syllabus and / or Aircrew Syllabus and / or Auxiliary Pilot Qualification Syllabus
  • Study the training materials
  • Take (and pass) the on-line written Aviation Qualification Examinations either:
    • Air Pilot / Air Observer Exam (Test A)
    • Air Pilot Supplemental Exam (Test B) or
    • Both
  • Crew Resource Management Course (AUX-17)
  • AUXAIR Spatial Disorientation Course (AUX-18) for any Pilot position
  • Take Emergency Egress and Water Survival Training
  • Begin Training Flights

AUXAIR involves more than just pilots. AUXAIR involves three levels of pilot qualification, and three levels of non-pilot qualification. Pilots may be qualified as Co-Pilots, First Pilots or Aircraft Commanders. Non-Pilots may be Observer Trainees, Qualified Observers or Air Crew members. 

Although the specific qualification standards for each of these levels of participation in the AUXAIR program are detailed in the Auxiliary Operations Policy Manual, here is a brief overview:

ALL AIRCREW MEMBERS - (Observers, Aircrew, & All Pilots):

  • Aviation Workshop - Annually
  • Safety Seminar/Workshop - Annually
  • Emergency Egress Training – Annually
  • Water Survival Training - Annually
  • Crew Resource Management (AUX-17) - Initially then every 5 years


  • Recommendation by FP or AC
  • Pass Written Observer Exam A > 90%
  • Complete Air Observer Syllabus
  • 10 Flight Hours as Observer Trainee
  • Demonstrate ability to:
    • Handle Coast Guard Communications
    • Understand Sectional Charts
  • Complete Area Familiarization
  • Have FP or AC certify completion of requirements


  • Certified as Observer
  • Pass Medical Screening - every 24 months (36 months under age 40)
  • Pass Written Aux Pilot Exam B > 90%
  • 5 Hours Flight Training (min)
  • Attend AUX Aviation Seminars - Annually
  • Complete Air Crew Syllabus including check offs on:
    • Communications (CG & ATC), Navigation, Airspace, Charts, Weather, Aircraft Systems, Flight Planning
      • OR
  • Have FAA 3rd Class Medical Certificate
  • FAA Airman Certificate (Private Pilot or Greater)
  • Complete Observer Training


  • 200 Hours PIC (minimum)
  • Third Class Medical (or greater)
  • Pass Written Aux Observer and Pilot Exams > 90%
  • Two Missions as Trainee (not PIC)
  • Complete Auxiliary Pilot Qualification Syllabus including Auxiliary Flight Check
  • 12 Hours as PIC - Every 6 Months
  • Current per FAR 61.57 (Recent Flight Experience for PIC)
  • Attend AUX AVIATION Seminars - Annually
  • AUXAIR Spatial Disorientation (AUX-18) - Initially then every 5 years


  • Same as “All Pilots”


  • All Co-Pilot, plus:
  • 500 Hours PIC (minimum)
  • Complete Area Familiarization
  • Fly 3 Missions totaling 6 Hours - Every 6 Months
  • Current Auxiliary Flight Check (including SAR items) - Biennially


  • Same as First Pilots, Plus:
  • 1000 Hours PIC (minimum)
  • Instrument Rating
  • Instrument Current per FAR 61.57