Civil Air Patrol--Your Options
By Samantha W.

Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a civilian auxiliary component of the U.S. Air Force that was founded on December 1, 1941 as a complement to America's war effort during WWII. During the war, CAP missions mainly consisted of coastal patrols, frequently in an "anti-submarine" role that was credited with 173 enemy submarine "finds" and even 2 confirmed "sinks," along with several "hits." Currently, CAP's main mission is in the Emergency Services field, such as disaster relief and search and rescue.

Air Force ROTC cadets are eligible for up to 4 free flights with a CAP pilot. A typical flight starts with the arrival of two AFROTC cadets at the airport where they meet the CAP pilot. Following introductions, the pilot takes the cadets out onto the tarmac where the CAP aircraft is parked. From there, the pilot instructs the cadets on the basics of a "pre-flight check" as well as a quick anatomy of the aircraft. Once the aircraft is verified to be flight-ready, the pilot and cadets board the airplane, get accustomed to their headsets, and taxi to the runway for takeoff. As soon as the pilot gets to an altitude and area he considers safe, he lets the cadet in the front seat get a feel for the controls and experiment with some basic maneuvers. After a little while, the pilot again takes control, lands the airplane at another airport, where the cadets switch seats, and then the process is repeated with the new "co-pilot." Soon enough, the pilot lands back at the home airport and goes through a quick debrief of the flight with the cadets. From there, goodbyes are said until "next-time."

CAP Ground School

This year the Civil Air Patrol ground school is being held once a week for anyone and everyone who is interested in flying, plans on going on a CAP flight, or simply wants to do well on the aviation portion of the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT). It's an hour-long session including the basic fundamentals of flight, as well as more specific aspects pertaining to the AFOQT. The sessions are informal and interactive giving the cadets a chance to make comments and ask questions about what they are learning, and especially give suggestions for improvement.

Attending these ground school sessions will not only help you with the AFOQT but will give you a better idea of what is going on when you are on a Civil Air Patrol flight. The pilot of your aircraft will likely talk about the plane, and just by knowing the different parts of the airplane you will have a better understanding of what he is talking about and, therefore, be able to learn more from him. You can attend all or just one of the sessions; they are not mandatory, and attendance is not taken. It is a fun learning experience and remember, there is always free pizza and drinks!

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