Civil Air Patrol Students Experience the Thrill of Flying

three people by airplane
Photos courtesy Red Oak ISD

Red Oak Middle School CAP Cadets Take Orientation Flight

(RED OAK, TX) — The last weekend in March 2021 will be one that eleven middle school students will remember as the Red Oak Middle School Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets received an orientation flight in a Cessna 172.

“It was a thrill and exciting to fly the aircraft,” said Cadet Jaxson Petersen.

The CAP program is a precursor to the Red Oak High School Naval JROTC program for many students, but those in CAP are often interested in becoming pilots.

According to Lt. Col. Jane Smalley, the CAP instructor at Red Oak Middle School, the cadet orientation flight program shares with cadets the thrill of flying. Every CAP cadet under age 18 is eligible for five flights in a powered aircraft (usually a single-engine Cessna), five flights in a glider aircraft, and an unlimited number of backseat flights when conditions allow.

students look at airplane
CAP students look at Cessna Photo courtesy ROISD

“I liked learning about the Cessna and flying the aircraft since that is what I want to do,” said Cadet Caden Wilmarth, and Cadet Berek Wherley added, “I loved flying the airplane. It was bumpy so it was really fun.”

Flying is always free to cadets because survey data has repeatedly shown that the number one reason youth become CAP cadets is an interest in flying. Orientation flights are a beginning for many cadets. They have the opportunities to apply and attend both glider and powered flight academies and many go on into the new Wings program that allows a cadet to earn their private pilot certification for free.

“We want to motivate cadets and fly them regularly which is why the program offers flights for free,” stated Lt. Col. Smalley. “Orientation flights link the knowledge that they learn in their aerospace modules with real life.”