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Cadet Orientation Flights

Program Motto:  “Safe, Fun, Educational”


CAP gives cadets the opportunity to experience the wonder of flight. Orientation flights are among the most exciting aspects of cadet life.


Orientation Flight Fact Sheet for Parents




What's involved with cadet orientation flights?

Through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders, cadets experience flight first-hand. CAP's pilots are licensed by the FAA, follow a syllabus for each flight, and ensure the flight is conducted safely. Orientation flights are free to cadets. See the squadron commander for information about when the next opportunity to fly is scheduled.

Who is the pilot?

Only adult volunteers who are members of CAP and have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI may serve as cadet orientation pilots. Local leaders will introduce you to the pilot if you ask.

What are the pilot's qualifications?

CAP pilots are licensed by the FAA. Moreover, pilots must meet additional requirements set by CAP. For powered aircraft, they will have over 200 hours as pilot-in-command in the class of aircraft they’re flying, or 100 flights in the case of gliders. Further, all pilots will have passed an annual written exam that tests their airmanship, passed an annual check flight with a CAP check pilot, demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the cadets’ flight syllabus, and received the approval of their wing commander. In short, CAP requires much more from the pilots who fly your son or daughter than the federal government does.

Do cadets actually fly the plane?

CAP does allow cadets to handle the controls while aloft. Learning how planes fly is the main goal of the program. However, the pilot remains in command at all times, and only the pilot will fly the airplane during takeoff, landing, and other critical moments of the flight.

Do cadets fly in inclement weather?

No. Cadets fly only in fair weather, under conditions that the FAA calls “visual flight rules.”

What type of aircraft do cadets fly?

During routine cadet orientation flights and with few exceptions, most cadets will fly in a CAP-owned single-engine Cessna, or a glider. During special events, cadets may be eligible for orientation flights aboard military aircraft, primarily cargo aircraft, tankers, or helicopters.  

Where do the cadets fly?

For CAP orientation flights, a small airport near your hometown will probably serve as the day’s base of operations. The cadets may stay in the immediate vicinity, or fly to a nearby airport, land, switch seats, and return to the original airport. For orientation flights in military aircraft, cadets will likely fly from a military airfield. 

Do orientation flights count as bona fide flight instruction?

No. The flights are educational and fun, but are not intended as formal flight training. If your son or daughter wants to earn a pilot’s license, you’ll want to look into our cadet flight academies.

What do cadets learn while aloft?

Each flight has a theme. Flights focus on basic maneuvers, aircraft instruments, weather, etc. During CAP orientation flights, a detailed syllabus guides the pilot.

How much do flights cost?

CAP never charges cadets for orientation flights. 

May cadets fly more than once?

Yes. Each cadet may receive up to 5 CAP orientation flights in a powered aircraft and 5 flights in a glider. 

What if my cadet gets airsick?

CAP pilots closely monitor how the cadets are feeling while aloft. Airsickness bags are always available, and the pilot can land the aircraft within a few minutes’ time. Also, it helps to have a light snack but not a full meal shortly before flying. If your son or daughter is prone to motion sickness, please tell your local leaders beforehand.

What if my cadet is scared of flying?

Cadets are never obligated to fly, but we hope they at least give it a try. CAP works to ease cadets’ anxieties in a number of ways. Through classroom instruction, cadets learn the basic science that makes flight possible. They’ll meet the pilot and find him or her to be trustworthy and reassuring. On the day of their flight, cadets will help the pilot pre-flight the airplane and get to see firsthand that their plane is airworthy. They’ll see their fellow cadets flying and having a fantastic time. If your son or daughter is particularly nervous, please talk with your local CAP leaders beforehand. They’ll be glad to help.

What should my cadet bring to an orientation flight?

At a minimum, cadets will need to wear a uniform. They also might want to bring some chewing gum, bottled water, sunglasses, and a smart phone or camera.

What can families do to help?

Parents and guardians might be needed to help with transportation, to provide snacks, and chaperone cadets. If you’re willing to help, please talk with your local CAP leaders.



Cadet orientation flights are safe, fun, and educational. Oftentimes, moms and dads are more nervous about the flights than the cadets. Please take a look at this informational video prepared by Nebraska Wing. It is a real-life account of an Orientation Flight Day! We hope this FAQ and has reassured you about our commitment to your child’s safety and our focus on making O-ride day a wonderful experience.

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