Cadet Orientation Flight Hours Climb to New Heights
Civil Air Patrol set a new record for cadet orientation flights hours in fiscal 2023, with CAP pilots totaling 14,451 hours aloft with their young passengers – an increase of 19.5% over the 12,096-hour figure for fiscal 2022.
The previous high for orientation flight hours, set in fiscal 2018, was 14,101. The record total helped CAP break the 100,000-hour flight mark for the first time since 2017. Pilots logged 101,446 flying hours for all missions in fiscal 2023, up 7% over the previous year's total of 95,242.
The orientation flight program provides each CAP cadet up to five flights in a powered aircraft and five flights in a glider.
Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP’s national commander/CEO, often participates in the program when his time permits.
“The cadet experience I think is really important, to do all of the different things cadets have a chance to do,” Phelka said after piloting a pair of cadet orientation flights during the Maine Wing Conference in September.
“Giving orientation rides is one of my favorite things because I love creating those experiences [for cadets]. It’s a chance for me to continue to do that as a pilot; it’s one of my favorite things.”
“As the national commander I come out for these conferences, but doing orientation rides gives me a chance to see more than just the people who come to the conference,” he said.
“I get to see the condition of the airplanes, I get to talk to flight release officers, I get to understand a lot more about a wing that I’m visiting.
“Plus, the bonus is getting a chance to fly cadets.”