Skip to main content
Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters
Main Content

Teacher Orientation Program Flights

Teacher Orientation Program (TOP ) Flight Info for Educators:

One of the most exciting benefits of being a Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Member (AEM) is the opportunity to take a Teacher Orientation Program (TOP) flight in a CAP airplane, with an experienced CAP pilot, at a local airport. See Fall 2019 TOP Flight story HERE.  This exhilarating program includes a pre-flight briefing, an actual airplane flight, and educational applications to share with students!  Taking videos and/or photos to share the experience with students, OR., even live-streaming this flight, will transfer flight excitement to youth in hopes of greater interest in STEM subjects using the aviation theme.  CHECK OUT THIS RECENT TOP FLIGHT VIDEO!  

BUT consider this. . .

It is more fun to fly with a friend! Thus, educators are encouraged to ask a peer to also join as a CAP AEM. Then, the two can fly together!  Another option is for a school or school system to have schedule a TOP Flight Day with CAP and make it a grand event with media coverage involved!  TOP Flights can even be conducted as a part of an educator workshop at an airport or an aviation museum.

NOTE: All participants must be CAP AEMs, with a current CAP ID#. For information about the CAP AEM program, and all free program benefits, go to the Educators Page.

To receive a TOP Flight, just send an e-mail request to  Include your CAP ID# and your state in which you live.

TOP Flight Info Flyer for Educators

Check out this news report on how this program inspires teachers.


TOP Flight Resources/Info for CAP Wing Directors of Aerospace Education (and Directors of Operations/TOP Flight Pilots):

  • TOP Flight Info Flyer for Educators

  • Feb '19 TOP Flight Letter from MG Smith   Please use this letter until all guidance/info is updated for Mission Symbol A19 use for TOP Flights.

  • TOP Flight Slides (being updated)

  • TOP Flight Handbook (being updated)- General guidance until handbook is completed: Wing DAE should still contact with requests and further instructions prior to coordinating the flight(s). Ensure AEM(s) will not expire by the time of the flight.

         * To fly 1-2 educators, an additional educational session about our aerospace/STEM products and programs is optional depending on time, and, if the AE member desires more at the airport.

         * To fly a large group of educators, it is imperative  that the DAE is involved, with assistance from other AEOs, to conduct other educational activities for the educators to do while awaiting their flight. We do not want the educators sitting without something planned to enhance their experience.

  • WMIRS Instructions (being updated)- General guidance until handbooks is completed: Enter a training mission request in WMIRS with the mission type "Teacher Orientation Program."  AE will then coordinate funding source and edit mission in WMIRS for Wing Approval. Ensure AEM(s) will not expire by the time of the flight.

  • TOP Flight Evaluation (being updated)- General guidance until handbook is completed: All AEMs will receive a survey after their flight to complete with added digital photos for

  • TOP Flight Certificate


Frequently Asked Questions by Educators:

  • How do I schedule a TOP Flight?
    Send an e-mail to (the Aerospace Education Division at CAP's National HQ in Montgomery, AL).

  • How far in advance should a flight be scheduled?
    It is suggested that you send your request to AE @ at least one month in advance of desired flight date.  

  • After emailing Aerospace Education, approximately how long does it take for my pilot to contact me?
    AE will copy you on the email sent to your state's volunteer Director of AE (we call this the Wing DAE).  Your DAE will put you in contact with a pilot to coordinate a date/time for your flight.  Please remember that all CAP members are volunteers, so give your DAE and/or pilot 7-10 days to reply to you. If you do not hear anything within that time, please send another e-mail to for assistance.

  • Where will I meet the pilot on the day of the flight?
    Your assigned pilot will communicate with you on the location of your flight and any other pertinent information you will need. Please exchange cell #s with your pilot so either of you can contact the other with any further information.

  • What clothes should I wear?
    You should dress informally and comfortably. We suggest you wear comfortable pants and closed-toed shoes. Depending on the weather, the weight of clothing you wear should be considered. The aircraft have heat for cooler days, but you should still bring a light jacket or coat, depending on weather temperature. There is no air conditioning for warm/hot days, but, rather, only vents to let air in, so dress appropriately for the heat.

  • Is there anything specific I should bring for my flight?
    1- Bring your CAP ID card and driver's license. 2- Bring a camera and/or phone to take photos and/or videos. 3- Bring a small notebook (6X9 or 5X8) to take notes.  4- Bring a non-breakable bottle of water.  5- Bring some chewing gum and/or some peppermint candies, both being good to have on hand for your first small airplane flight.  

  • In what type of aircraft will I be flying?
    CAP aircraft are, typically, Cessna airplanes (172s, 182s, and 206s).  These are all General Aviation aircraft, with propeller engines and high wings for easy ground views.

  • What are the qualifications for CAP pilots?
    CAP pilots are FAA qualified private, commercial, or Air Transport Pilots (ATP) and generally have several hundred hours of flight experience or more. They are required to meet FAA currency requirements and to pass a CAP flight evaluation every 12 months.

  • How long does the flight last?
    For two educators riding in the same plane, the flight usually lasts about an hour. The pilot tires to give both passengers time in the front seat, with the controls,  resulting in two separate take-offs and two landings.

  • What can I expect during this flight experience?
    The pilot will have you join him/her on a pre-flight check of the airplane, and will give you a pre-flight briefing to include all safety information.  You will wear a headset and will be able to communicate with the pilot and hear your pilot communicating with the Air Traffic Control Tower.  Hopefully, before your flight day you will express an interest in flying over your school or other landmark.  If so, the pilot will have already plotted the path for your flight and will tell you where all you will fly for the day. He/she will explain educational features of the airplane and of the geography below so that you can share this with your students.  After the flight, your pilot may ask you to assist with in  plane tie-down and/or refueling the plane.  Do not be in a rush to depart so that you can take advantage of all learning opportunities that may be available to you.

  • How can I take this experience back to my classroom?
    Take aerial photos and/or videos and share them with the students. Discuss what it feels like to fly. Explain all information shared by the pilot about the controls,. the  planning of the flight, the math used to fuel the plane, the geography of the ground below, and the science that you learned behind the "magic" of flying. Consider inviting your pilot to come speak to your class.  (You may also want your students to help you prepare a good video or project of thanks to share with your pilot and others!)

  • What neat ideas have been used during the flights?
    1- The principal has joined CAP and has flown a TOP flight with another school educator during the school day.  The airplane flies over the school while all of the students are outside standing on the field forming the initials of the school with 'human bodies.' The aerial photo of the school also includes all the students below!  Cool!    2- When flying overhead, the principal, superintendent, or teacher who is flying uses a radio to speak to the students outside below.  The radio receiver can be placed near a microphone so the students hear the "message from above."   3- The educator flying live streams the flight to the students back in the classroom with Q and A conducted during the event.  4- The students help the educator plot the flight plan prior to the flight and the educator shares videos of the geography from above in comparison with the map. 5- If YOU do something unique, please share it with us so we can share it with others!

  • Whom do I contact if I must cancel my flight?
    Make sure you exchange cell #s with the pilot when scheduling your flight, and contact him/her immediately if you need to cancel your flight. You may also discuss with him/her a time to reschedule your orientation flight.

  • What happens if the weather is not conducive for flying?
    Your pilot will determine whether or not the flight should be cancelled due to inclement weather. He or she will work with you to reschedule your orientation flight.  CAP always places safety first in any situation, but, most assuredly, for flights.  You may be disappointed to have to cancel a flight, but feel confident that when you do get a rescheduled flight, you will be flying with a safe and cautious pilot.

                         MOST OF ALL; HAVE FUN!

© 2019 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.