Protecting America’s borders from a bird’s-eye view may be just the job for aviators ready to make their next career move. Stemming the flow of illegal aliens, foiling drug traffickers and combating terrorism are just some of the tasks that place Customs and Border Protection pilots on the cutting edge of law enforcement.
If you’re looking for a job that’s more of an adventure, consider becoming an air interdiction agent and joining the more than 700 other aviators dedicated to serving and protecting the American people. You’ll find a rewarding career far from the tedium of the 9-to-5 rat race, where your efforts can make a difference.
CBP is currently recruiting pilots who can fly both helicopters and airplanes as well as pilots who can fly unmanned aircraft. Initial assignments are in Laredo and McAllen, Texas and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Unmanned locations, which also require dual-rated pilots, are in Corpus Christi, Texas, Sierra Vista, Arizona and Grand Forks, North Dakota.
If you’re less than 37 years old, (exceptions apply for veterans and those with former federal law enforcement service) hold instrument and commercial ratings, hold at least a second class FAA medical certificate to apply, have 1,500 hours of total time and have logged 100 hours of flying during the last 12 months, you’re already halfway there!
The other half requires passing a polygraph and drug screening, physical fitness test, an interview, a flight evaluation and obtaining a first class medical certificate.
Start by responding to the air interdiction agent job announcement on USAJOBS.gov. Applications, including copies of certificates and logbook flight hours, are then reviewed to determine minimum qualifications.
Qualified applicants who pass the polygraph evaluation are referred to the National Air Training Center in Oklahoma City for an interview and a flight check. Transportation and other expenses associated with the visit are on the applicant’s nickel.
“I encourage applicants to do some practice flying,” said Doug Thompson, a supervisory air interdiction agent who manages applicant interviews. “In some cases it’s been a while since an applicant has flown a small aircraft. I also encourage applicants to hit the books and study for the oral [test].”
The interview is done by a three-member panel. Questions probe for decision-making ability, communication skills, integrity and the ability to work with others. Other questions, both oral and written, look for technical knowledge on aerodynamics, weight and balance, weather, Part 91 and 61 federal regulations and the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Manual, said Thompson.
Applicants are also quizzed on aeronautical charts and instrument approach procedure and logbooks and certificates are validated, he said.
“The applicant needs to be a good fit,” said Thompson. “At the same time, an applicant can take a look at our aircraft and our people.”
Finally, there’s the flight evaluation—two flights actually: One in the Cessna 206 or Cessna 210 and the other in the Airbus AS-350 or EC-120. Fixed wing tests include steep turns, unusual attitude recovery, slow flight and aerodynamic stalls. Rotor wing tests include slope landings, hovering and autorotations.
Instrument approaches are conducted in both aircraft.
Applicants who pass and are offered a position can expect to be employed while training for more than a year before assigned as a pilot in the field. There’s a 15-week Air and Marine Basic Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, and subsequent courses in water and land survival, tactics and Spanish. In addition, there’s initial helicopter and airplane training courses, which add several more weeks of instruction.
By Michael Pope, U.S Customs and Border Protection
Provided through DVIDS
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