Civil Air Patrol Cadets get stick time

Training on gliders at New Ulm Airport

Staff photo by Fritz Busch A Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadet brings a glider in for a landing at New Ulm Municipal Airport Monday.

NEW ULM — A dozen Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadets from across the country are getting glider stick (flying) time at the New Ulm Municipal Airport this week.

The week-long North Central Region flight academy includes motorized flight at the Mankato Airport and glider flight at New Ulm. Cadets log up to 20 hours of flight time and solo if they demonstrate proficiency. Cadets can fly gliders at age 14 and can fly motorized planes at age 16.

“Hopefully, we can strike some interest in these young men and women to become aviators. Some of them will join the military. Others will become commercial airline pilots,” said Bill Pagel, a CAP Chief Glider Flight Instructor from Inver Grove Heights.

“It can’t be very cloudy or windy to fly a glider. They fly much like motorized planes and offer a good, fundamental flying experience for kids to learn stick and rudder skills,” Pagel said.

“The New Ulm Airport is a great place to fly gliders. It isn’t that busy so we have plenty of opportunity to fly here. We get great support from Dan Soehren, New Ulm Flight Service Maintenance Director,” Pagel said.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch  A Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadet waits with his flight instructor on a grass runway at New Ulm Municipal Airport Monday.

Many of the two-seat gliders are the same ones used for basic flight training at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Some cadets carry on family military aviation tradition by joining the Civil Air Patrol. Some joined the organization for its regimentation and varied training they can receive at a young age.

The CAP is a volunteer organization with aviation-minded membership including people from all backgrounds, lifestyles and occupations.

The organization performs emergency services including air and ground search and rescue, disaster relief; youth and general public aerospace education; and cadet programs for teenagers.

Recently, the CAP was tasked with homeland security and courier service missions for various agencies including local law enforcement and the American Red Cross.

Cadet Michael Diefenbach, 15, Chappaqua, N.Y. said he always liked airplanes but realized he wanted to fly after taking a CAP orientation flight.

“I flew with a CAP instructor for about 20 minutes a couple years ago, decided to go into flight training and hopes to become a U.S. Air Force pilot.

Jonathon Solberg, 16, Eau Claire, Wi. said he rode in a engine-powered glider and flew it with an instructor when the engine was off and “caught the flying bug” and joined the CAP at age 13. He has hopes of joining the Air National Guard and studying aerospace engineering at the University of North Dakota.

“I’ve met so many people and had tons of fun in the Civil Air Patrol,” Solberg said. “I’m saving up for flight training with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

The EAA advertises itself as “everyone’s aircraft association.”

“If your pulse races when an airplane passes overhead, you’re one of us,” reads the EAA web site. “Join more than 200,000 pilots and enthusiasts who consider aviation more than a hobby, but a passion and a lifestyle.”

Basic expectations of first-year cadets include staying with the organization for at least one year, giving the experience a chance to impact their life and attend weekly squadron meetings.

For more information, visit https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/programs/cadets/newcadet

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).