Cadet Orientation Flights
What are Orientation Flights?
Orientation flights, or "O-Flights" as they are commonly referred, are an opportunity for CAP cadets to experience flight first-hand.
Cadets will take to the skies in one of Civil Air Patrol's fleet aircraft, under the command of a qualified pilot, to gain an understanding of what is really involved in operating an aircraft from the pilot's perspective. During their flight, cadets will have a chance to manipulate the flight controls and perform basic flight maneuvers under a defined educational flight syllabus.
What type of aircraft will cadets fly?
Orientation flights are conducted in two aircraft categories: powered airplanes and unpowered gliders.
While CAP operates a variety of aircraft across the country, Ohio's powered airplane flights are usually conducted in a Cessna 182 Skylane single-engine, high-performance airplane, or the smaller Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
Ohio has a unique opportunity for cadets to fly in the LET L-23 Super Blaník, as many CAP Wings do not have access to a local glider.
What airport do cadets fly out of?
Airports may vary depending on where the majority of the cadets live, as we try to schedule the airport of choice closest to cadets' hometowns. Be sure to verify where orientation flights will be operating from prior to the day of flying to ensure you are going to the correct airport!
The aircraft will be flown to the airport to meet the cadets flying that day.
Who actually flies the plane?
While cadets will be able to get their chance to operate the aircraft's flight controls, all flights are conducted by a qualified CAP Orientation Pilot, or "O-Pilot."
O-Pilots are trained and qualified within Civil Air Patrol to specifically perform as educational pilots for cadets. All O-Pilots are certified pilots via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and must meet a minimum standard of experience and undergo recurrent training to maintain pilot status within CAP.
Can cadets log this time as flight instruction?
Orientation flights do not count toward flight instruction hours for student pilots.
While some Orientation Pilots are flight instructors, CAP's orientation flight syllabi are for educational, familiarization purposes only and do not meet the standards for logging flight training time.
Cadets, however, do have the opportunity to pursue flight training within Civil Air Patrol. For more information, see the Youth Aviation Initiative (Cadet Wings Program) site.
Are Orientation Flights mandatory? What if a cadet does not want to go?
Orientation flights are voluntary. Cadets do not need to take a flight if they choose not to.
Many cadets have never flown in an aircraft before. Many cadets are nervous about flying. While we encourage cadets to experience something new, this is never forced.
How many times can a cadet go on an Orientation Flight?
Each cadet has a total of 10 orientation flights to conduct: 5 powered (airplane) and 5 unpowered (glider).
Each flight uses a different educational syllabus.
Cadets are able to fly in the backseat during orientation flights, pending room and aircraft weight restrictions. There is no limitation as to the number of times a cadet may ride in the backseat.
NOTE: Orientation Flights are only available to cadets under the age of 18 years.
Are there any restrictions when flying (e.g., physical limitations)?
While there is no prescribed restriction on cadets flying, the Pilot-in-Command has the ultimate responsibility over the safety of the aircraft and its occupants. The PIC may determine it to be unsafe for any individual to occupy an aircraft.
While there is no fitness or medical standard for cadets to be "cleared to fly," they should be sure to discuss any known physical issues with their parents/guardians and their Orientation Pilot if there are any concerns. A medical pre-screen is not conducted prior to flying since the flight is a non-intense, educational flight.
All cadets are required to wear a CAP uniform when flying. Grooming and appearance standards must be maintained. (*Cadets may not wear boots in gliders; athletic shoes will be worn).
How do cadets sign up for their flight?
The squadron provides a regular sign-up for cadets to schedule their orientation flight, usually at least one month in advance. This is coordinated with the cadets during unit meetings and by email.
Cadets who must cancel should attempt to notify the squadron as far in advance as possible so that their slot may be filled with another candidate to avoid having to cancel the flight day. We typically require at least 4 cadets to fly on the same day to make it economical for the cost of operating the aircraft.
Some major activities, such as Encampment or National Cadet Special Activities, may afford cadets the opportunity to receive their Orientation Flight(s) as part of the event curriculum/schedule. These will be coordinated via the activity director.
Do you fly in bad weather?
"Bad weather" is subjective. There are minimum flight safety standards for operating in different weather conditions. The Pilot-in-Command will make the ultimate determination as to the safety of the weather conditions on the day of flying. Flights may also be cancelled days in advance based on forecast conditions. All flights are also cleared by a Flight Release Officer who will concur with the pilot that the conditions are safe/unsafe for flight.
Cadets must be prepared to be flexible in the schedule, as cancellations may come with short notice on the day of flying. Be sure to check your email before leaving home!
Orientation flights are conducted year-round, including the winter months.
Are flights for cadets only, or can adults go, too?
Orientation flights are specifically designed for cadets. Adults do not receive orientation flights.
CAP does offer a Teacher Orientation Program (TOP) Flights for Aerospace Education Members (AEMs). These flights are reserved for CAP members who are teachers and educators in the community.
Only CAP members are permitted to fly in CAP aircraft, pending some exceptional circumstances. Parents and family members of cadets who are not CAP members are not permitted to fly due to liability.