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NC Wing Holds Record O-Flight Day

Cadet Sam Smith prepares for his first glider flight
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Cadet Sam Smith Prepares to take his first glider flight. SM John Styer from NC-145, pilots the glider. (click image to view full size)
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breaks all records

3/26/2014––According to the Cadet Orientation Flight Syllabus (CAPP 52-7), the number one reason that cadets join Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is to fly. Squadrons focus a great deal of their time and talent providing opportunities for cadets to experience the thrill of flight.

The primary goal of Orientation Flights or “O-Flights” as they are known in CAP is to “share with cadets the thrill of flying.” This goal is achieved only with safety as a priority. Experienced Civil Air Patrol pilots are tasked with ensuring that, above everything else, safety remains the center of every experience.

Ensuring safety during flying is a win-win for both pilots and cadets alike. Being responsible for the safety of the cadets causes the pilots to be extra vigilant in their preparation for sorties, and during the entire flight; and demonstrates, to the cadets, the importance in being safety conscious. Pilots are encouraged to use “teaching moments” throughout the entire experience to drive this and other concepts home to the impressionable cadets.

The North Carolina Wing fully supports orientation flights for cadets and every weekend throughout the state, cadets are being given the opportunity to work through their orientation flights. This year, on March 15th, the wing held its largest ever O-Flight day. Preparation began in mid-February with the support of the wing commander, Col. David Crawford. Crawford encouraged each of the squadrons to make available all aircraft and pilots as well as support crew to have the greatest possible opportunities for the cadets to fly. His goal to have 40 flights was far surpassed with a total of 52 sorties being flown in one day throughout the state. Maj. Chris Bailey, NC Wing Director of Operations, stated “as far as I can remember, this breaks all previous records for a single day of O-Flights here in North Carolina”.

Two types of aircraft were used during the day, both powered aircraft and gliders. Throughout the state 10 squadrons, including Burlington, Raleigh-Wake, Winston Salem, Statesville, Southport, Fayetteville, Pitt Greenville,  Franklin, Elizabeth City, Asheville and Cape Fear all provided either pilots or aircraft for the day. In total, 32 powered flights were completed with the use of eight aircraft and 11 pilots, totaling over 43 hours of flight.

Late last year, North Carolina added glider flights to their missions and the gliders were definitely a big part of the day this year. 26 glider sorties were flown. 25 of the 26 flights were the first glider flights cadets. Because gliders are not powered, the must be towed to altitude then released. This requires additional manpower both to guide the glider down the runway and a plane to tow the glider to altitude. Four glider pilots and 3 tow plane pilots were used to fly those missions.

In reviewing the great success of the day, Col Crawford offered “I can’t say enough how proud I am of each of the squadrons who came together to make this day a reality; but the unsung heroes of the day are the adult volunteers and parents who helped in countless ways.” Middle East Region (MER) Commander, Col. Larry Ragland and Lt. Col Jay Langley, also from MER were also very instrumental in the success of the day.