CAP Cadets Fly Solo

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Goodly
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Seventeen cadets recently attended the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) North Central Region Glider Flight Academy at the Sunflower Aerodrome in Hutchinson, Kansas.


The 10-day academy allowed cadets aged 14-19 to experience flying in an L-23 Super Blanik Glider, with the ultimate goal of flying solo by the end of their time in the program.


"The real goal is to give cadets flight time and introduce them to gliders," said Lt. Col. Douglas Dutton, Kansas Civil Air Patrol operations director. "The ultimate dream is to get everyone to fly solo, and we got 16 out of 17 to solo this session."


CAP is a congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. According to a report given to Congress, CAP currently has over 56,000 volunteers who provide services such as search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian efforts. 


This year's competitive selection process saw 90 applicants and only 17 chosen. To be selected for the academy, a cadet must receive a recommendation from their squadron commander before applying. This year the students came from all over the country, including; Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C.


"These are all kids that have risen to the top in CAP," said Dutton. "All of them are higher in rank and have earned at least a Chief Master Sergeant rank, with Lieutenant Colonel being the highest. They really have put in a lot of effort to get here and they all deserve to be here."


During their time in the academy, cadets learn foundational skills for flying, which include: flying off of airspeed, altitude, energy management, checklist discipline, situational awareness and risk mitigation.


When not actively flying in a glider, cadets attend classroom instruction, assist each other on the runway and use flight simulators to hone their skills. The simulators offer a realistic experience, and the cadets' record time spent in them in their flight log books as training.


In addition to the 17 CAP cadets, the academy included 15 volunteers made up of 3 tow pilots, 5 Federal Aviation Administration-rated glider instructors and support staff.


The instructor's ability to perform multiple flights for each cadet is contingent upon various factors, including weather. Last year the program averaged 30 flights per cadet within six days, and this year, it averaged 25 flights per cadet, all before they went on solo flights.


"My goal is to become a pilot for the United States Air Force," said Cadet 1st Lt. Emma Tetley. "I'm doing CAP for the leadership experience, the flying aspect, the emergency service missions and everything that comes with learning how to lead and train a flight. The first time I jumped in a glider, I was super hyped and excited to fly, and now that I've gotten more flight time, I love it even more and I want to fly as a job."