Dear Brigade Air Camp Host / Director:
This memorandum is necessary in order to maintain a high level of safety and ethics as we embark on another summer of Brigade Air aviation camps. Because you are considering hosting a Brigade Air camp this summer, I need to address the subject of release forms as well as several other items.
I know that you already have “release” or “hold harmless” forms that you issue to campers’ families to be read and signed consenting to all other camping activities, but it is likely that “aviation activities” are presently not included in your existing forms.
Each state has tested this matter a little differently, and because you already function as a youth camp in your respective state, you are in the best position to determine what is appropriate. Allow me to share my perspective on the subject:
You already understand this issue as directors of your respective camps, and that any activity poses a risk of some nature. We all assume and accept these risks in light of the benefit the activity produces in building tomorrow’s leaders, and could not function in Christian camping as such unless we did.
Brigade Air aviation camps are growing. There have been 1,100 campers and 65 camp weeks since we started in 2000. Needless to say, whatever the moral / legal climate of our culture may be, God’s Word instructs us to…“be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of you time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15,16) and, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5)
Brigade Air camps are only possible with the voluntary cooperative efforts of many different people and organizations which posses a variety of resources. I see this as the Body of Christ doing what it was made to do, resulting in a measurable benefit to God’s kingdom.
The courts might see this as a heyday of liabilities. But then again, they see almost everything else we do that way too. In an effort to keep Brigade Air camps as safe and orderly as possible I have consulted with a friend who is an aviation attorney with experience in risk management. This message comes to you as a result of those conversations.
Risk management of Brigade Air camps includes such issues as:
- Volunteer pilot minimum qualifications
- Aircraft requirements and operation
- Runway length, obstacles and condition
- Aviation liability insurance
- Vehicles used to transport Brigade Air campers
- Release / consent forms , and
- Air Safety Foundation / CFI Liability Checklist.
I am in the best position to assure that items addressed under # 1 through #3 are in order. You are in the best position to assure that items addressed under #5 and #6 are in order. Insurance matters (#4) will usually require efforts on both of our parts. If you are aware of other pertinent issues that you would like to see addressed, please write to me, Bruce E. Wolff, Executive Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Volunteer Pilot Minimum Qualifications.
Not any available pilot will due. He must posses at least a FAA commercial pilot certificate with a current medical certificate and must meet all applicable Federal Aviation Regulation requirements. A Commercial pilot with a Certified Flight Instructor rating will be given preference.
Pilots must meet FAR recency of experience requirements for carrying passengers. Any pilot who has had any legal action taken against his pilot certificate by the FAA or other law enforcement agency is required to disclose all details of that action to the Brigade Air Director for prior consideration.
Pilots must be willing to present their pilot certificate, medical certificate, and pilot logbook for review by the Brigade Air Director or his representative upon request. Pilots must be in agreement with Brigade Air philosophy of ministry, and demonstrate an attitude of cooperativeness and a willingness to receive instruction from the Brigade Air camp administrator.
Pilots approved by the Brigade Air Director or his representative for flight activities associated with Brigade Air camps act on a voluntary basis and at their own risk. Pilots must register with Brigade Air, Inc. on the Brigade Air website or by mail.
Pilot minimum flight time requirements are as follows: 300 hrs. PIC, 10 hrs. in type used at a Brigade Air camp. Each volunteer pilot must review and comply with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s publication, Volunteer Pilots – Recommendations For Enhanced Safety (PDF).
2. Aircraft Requirements and Operation.
Not any available airplane is qualified to participate in a Brigade Air camp. The Brigade Air Director or his representative, or any approved volunteer pilot reserves the right to inspect any aircraft intended for use at a Brigade Air event.
Aircraft must meet applicable Federal Aviation Regulation requirements, including recency requirements for maintenance inspections and repair, and must have a valid airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration and aircraft liability insurance certificate visibly displayed in the aircraft.
Only single engine propeller aircraft with internal combustion engines will be flown with Brigade Air campers on board. No experimental category aircraft will be flown with Brigade Air campers or volunteer personnel on board during a Brigade Air activity.
Aircraft showing evidence of any unauthorized repairs or alterations will not be used for a Brigade Air event. The pilot of any aircraft retains the right and responsibility to determine the airworthiness and appropriate usefulness of the aircraft used in conjunction with a Brigade Air activity.
Safe operation of an aircraft used for a Brigade Air flight includes disciplined calculation of weight and balance prior to any flight in accordance with the aircraft manufacturer’s specifications, and is required as part of the pre flight inspection.
Because Brigade Air camps are conducted predominantly in summer climate, special attention must be given to density altitude considerations before any flight is undertaken. Fuel and passenger loads must be adjusted accordingly to assure safety of flight.
Preferred aircraft for Brigade Air camps are Cessna 172, 182; Piper 140, 150, 180, considering power, weight, fuel consumption, and maintenance costs. High-performance or complexed single engine aircraft would be considered on an individual basis, but not preferred due to the age, inexperience, and attention span limitations of the typical Brigade Air camper.
3. Runway Length, Obstacles and Condition
There’s an old saying you hear around flight instructors: “The superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid getting into situations requiring the use of his superior skills”. In other words, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
The purpose of week-long Brigade Air camps is provide teens with a safe and enjoyable introduction to aviation at large, with special emphasis placed on the needs in missionary aviation worldwide.
Keeping safe margins with respect to runways will ensure a higher degree of safety. Let’s save aircraft maximum performance demonstrations for when they are required in tactical training. Reducing safety margins (i.e. using short or unsafe runways) for the so-called “benefits” of “real life” missions flying are of no benefit to Brigade Air camps or campers.
Due to the fact that gross weight operations are to be expected with Brigade Air camps, a runway length of no less than 3,000 feet is acceptable (unless prior approval from the Brigade Air Director has been granted), providing that:
- there are no obstacles to the approach or departure end of the runway, and
- density altitude calculations do not require greater length.
Turf or gravel surface runways should not be used for landings or takeoffs with Brigade Air campers on board, unless prior approval from the Brigade Air Director has been granted.
4. Aircraft Liability Insurance
The furnishing of liability insurance coverage for each Brigade Air, Inc. camp has been arranged through various means over the years:
- Effective June 1, 2007 Brigade Air, Inc. secured a Non-Owned Aircraft Liability Insurance Policy, with a $1,000,000 coverage limit. This coverage will be extended to the camp host, for the duration of the Brigade Air camp week, by request. A certificate of insurance naming the camp host will be furnished by the underwriter for a nominal fee .
- In certain cases where an airplane is being furnished by a volunteer owner, the aircraft owner is requested to arrange for adding the names of Brigade Air, Inc., and the camp host organization to his existing aircraft liability policy.
- In cases where a rental aircraft is used for a Brigade Air camp, the pilot approved to rent the aircraft is covered under the fleet rental liability policy.
5. Vehicles Used to Transport Brigade Air Campers
As is the case with all aviation-related concerns, safety must come first with all non aviation-related concerns as well.
At one particular Brigade Air camp in 2001, the camp provided a van for transporting pilots and campers to the airport from the campground. The driver was one of my volunteer pilots. While enroute, he applied the brakes as he approached some slower traffic, and the van swerved sharply to the left as he applied the brakes, into the on-coming traffic lane. He quickly corrected back to the right again, avoiding a head-on collision with a passing truck.
The cause? A very poorly maintained camp vehicle. The brakes, according to camp staff later that evening had been this way for some time. The brake cylinder on the front right wheel had been leaking fluid badly, causing an imbalance in the braking.
What if the driver had not responded rapidly enough? This was the single most frightening moment of all the Brigade Air camps so far, and it had nothing to do with an airplane. We cannot afford to be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to vehicle maintenance.
Additionally, please be sure to check out any age, licensing, or experience requirements your automobile fleet insurance provider may have for drivers of camp vehicles.
6. Release / Consent Forms
Every state has tested the matter of release forms differently. Each of you are directors of camps in varying states and are in the best position to know how best to word a release form for Brigade Air camps.
If you decide to have a separate release / permission form for the aviation camps, be sure to have the consenting parent or adult advised that their child will be flying in an aircraft. The EAA Young Eagle’s program has flown hundreds of thousands of children on their first flights, and uses a rather generic release form. Sample wording from this form is being furnished to you as a separate downloadable file for your review and its use is advisable.
Please take the time to read this, and if you have questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact me. Let’s make Brigade Air camps as safe and positive an experience as possible again this year.
7. Air Safety Foundation / CFI Liability Checklist (For Certified Flight Instructors Only)
During a recent Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Course I attended, the following six items were presented as a “CFI Liability Checklist”.
Note: Brigade Air camps are not offering flight instruction to flight students and no log book endorsements are given to our campers. We are giving familiarization flights to campers to introduce them to aviation. Some of these items apply directly and others do not. This checklist is for review by all participating CFI’s.
- Make sure that you are actually a “named insured” on the liability policy. The “open pilot clause” alone will not protect you.
- Make sure that the policy specifically covers flight instruction.
- Obtain a “waiver of subrogation” clause written in on the policy.
- Obtain your own CFI liability insurance policy.
- Know what your State regulators are doing in the area of flight instruction.
- Consider obtaining a Legal Services Plan to augment your insurance coverage.
I have read and understand the Brigade Air, Inc. Risk Management Policy above. I accept and agree to uphold and support this policy whenever a Brigade Air youth aviation camp is being conducted under my authority.
Prior to conducting a Brigade Air camp, please fill out this statement of acceptance, digitally sign and date it, then click on the submit button located at the bottom of the form.