RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) North Central Region has created an annual award named for Col. David Small, Jr., who died unexpectedly in December, 2021.
“The Colonel David Small, Jr., sUAS Crewmember of the Year Award will recognize pilots and other crewmembers in CAP’s drone program,” said Col. John O’Neill, CAP North Central Region Commander. “Col. Small was a tireless advocate for the program in its earliest stages and also served as a drone check pilot, examiner, and instructor pilot.”
Small, of Piedmont, S.D., served in Civil Air Patrol for 13 years, including as squadron and wing commander in South Dakota and as a CAP North Central Region vice commander.
“Our program flourished under his leadership and enthusiasm,” said CAP Lt. Col. Rodney “BUCK” DeWeese, commander of Lookout Mountain Composite Squadron, Spearfish. “I have never seen such patience and mentoring skills with all the cadets and Seniors. He was an icon in CAP and life in general.”
The inaugural award in the new program was presented to Small posthumously and accepted by his wife, CAP Captain Sylvia Small, at CAP’s South Dakota Wing conference this spring.
“David had a passion for ‘drones’ and thought they would aid in CAP’s search and rescue missions,” said his wife. “He worked tirelessly to get approval to officially use drones in searches. The first ever CAP search to use a drone was conducted in South Dakota under his command. He was a hands-on, on the ground, crew member of that first search. So, recognizing his pioneer spirit and vision for CAP through this award seems appropriate.”
CAP drones with aerial imaging, categorized as small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) by the FAA, can be used to locate missing persons/vehicles and perform disaster relief aerial surveys, among other applications. Many of the sUASs have infrared and thermal imaging (FLIR) capability. Smaller drones are also used in CAP’s aerospace education programs. CAP nationally has over 2,250 of the sUAS drones.
The new annual Colonel David Small, Jr., sUAS Crewmember of the Year Award will feature annual state-level awards in each of the seven wings in CAP’s North Central Region. State-level recipients will be candidates for the region-level award.