Cadets learn the importance of a thorough aircraft inspection before every flight

The Cadet Orientation Flight Program introduces cadets to general aviation through hands-on orientation flights in single engine aircraft and gliders. The program’s motto describes what cadet flying is all about: “Safe, Fun, Educational.” The program is limited to current CAP cadets under 18 years of age. At no time will cadets sustain any costs associated with this program.

Orientation flights are opportunities for cadets to become safety conscious. Orientation Pilots look for teachable moments where they can weave the following points into the activity:

  • Drug-Free Ethic. You cannot react quickly or perform as a skilled aviator while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Planning to Stay Safe. Safety doesn’t happen by accident. It requires planning. Pilots demonstrate by checking the weather, examining aeronautical charts, pre-flighting the aircraft, filing a flight plan, and providing a passenger safety briefing before every flight.
  • Disciplined Airmanship. Staying safe means following the rules. Pilots stick to the syllabus or flight plan. They have checklists, and they follow them. No horsing around or showboating.

The pre-flight inspection includes a close look at the fuel and fuel tanks

All flights are conducted in accordance with CAPR 70-1, CAP Flight Management. A successful orientation flight includes: a focus on safety, a thrilling experience, fulfillment of the goals of a flight syllabus, logging between 0.7 – 1.2 hours of actual flight time, and maximum use of the aircraft and the resources provided by National Headquarters.

Orientation Pilot teaches Cadet proper use of seat belt and seat adjustments

Cadet determines fuel level in wing tank during pre-flight inspection.







Cadets are responsible to arrive on time for their orientation flight. This is a very expensive program, involving a great deal of planning and coordination. Therefore, it is important for cadets to arrive on time and ready to fly. Cadets should bring with them the following: Uniform of the day, sunglasses, chewing gum, snacks and water, and a camera (optional). Cadets should expect to commit up to three hours to the Orientation Flight activity. Often, one cadet is paired with another cadet to maximize the use of the aircraft. A typical timeline for Orientation Flight day is as follows:

  • Cadets arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled time
  • Pilot and Cadets meet and discuss the plan of operations, aircraft ground handling, pre-flight planning, and check the weather (20 minutes)
  • Pilot leads Cadets through pre-flight of the aircraft (20-30 minutes)
  • Pilot and Cadet #1 occupy the front seats while Cadet #2 occupies the rear seat. Orientation Flight #1 (45 minutes – 1 hour)
  • After landing at a remote airport, Cadet #1 and Cadet #2 switch seats. Orientation Flight #2 (45 minutes – 1 hour)
  • After returning to the home airport the Pilot and Cadets review the flight and discuss any questions or concerns the Cadets have. Pilot presents Cadets with Certificate of First Flight (if applicable) (20 minutes)

And they’re off!

Welcome home after another successful flight

During Orientation Flights, cadets do take control of the aircraft and perform basic flight maneuvers. Cadets often describe these moments as the most thrilling part of their flight experience. Imagine experiencing something so few ever have the privilege of doing – acting as the pilot in command of an aircraft in flight. Cadets attached to TX-388 Fort Worth Phoenix Composite Squadron enjoy several opportunities to take Orientation Flights each year. Be sure to sign up when the opportunity arises!

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.


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