16:14 PM

CAP Receives AFA's Vandenberg Award for Helping Teach U.S. Youth to Fly

Civil Air Patrol is the 2019 recipient of the Hoyt S. Vandenberg Award, one of the Air Force Association’s highest honors.

Named after the former U.S. general who served as the second chief of staff of the Air Force and also the second director of the CIA, the 2019 Vandenberg award recognizes CAP for its efforts to address the worldwide pilot shortage through its multi-program Youth Aviation Initiative.

“Civil Air Patrol is committed to identifying and developing young pilots,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP’s national commander/CEO. “This is being accomplished through the Youth Aviation Initiative, and it is an honor to be recognized for these efforts.”

Smith accepted the Vandenberg award this morning at the 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. A premier event for defense and aerospace professionals around the world, the conference opened today and runs through Wednesday.With funding from the U.S. Air Force, CAP has implemented a number of programs to challenge and to provide opportunities for its cadets as well as youth participating in the Air Force Junior ROTC and ROTC programs.

The available programs include:

  • Cadet Wings Program – goal is receipt of Federal Aviation Administration private pilot certificate. (The fiscal 2019 budget was $1 million.)
  • Cadet Lift Program – weeklong aviation career exploration program. (The fiscal 2019 budget was $500,000.)
  • Cadet Take-Off Program (TOP) – flight academy with goal of soloing in powered flight, gliders or hot air balloons. (The fiscal 2019 budget was $500,000.)

To spark interest in and call attention to these aviation and career programs, in fiscal 2018 CAP flew 35,316 cadets from Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force Junior ROTC and ROTC programs. The fiscal 2019 budget for this activity was $400,000.

“Flying opportunities are available in concentrated residence programs or through certified flight instructors at the local level,” said Ken Goss, who nominated CAP for the award. “The programs are highly selective, rigorous and very demanding. Ideal applicants for the Cadet Wings program have a solo endorsement certificate, have passed the FAA private pilot written examination and have a valid FAA medical.”

The CAP development team is seeking government, corporate and individual donations for these important programs as well. Recently, American Airlines provided an initial grant of $25,000 to buy pilot kits for all cadets who solo.

Smith said CAP’s efforts to provide flying programs for America’s youth will continue. “We’re in for the long haul,” he said. “That is our challenge from the secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff, and it is our commitment to our parent service and Total Force partner.”

The Vandenberg award was established in 1948. Past recipients include Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, first U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff (1951); retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle (1953); Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (1980); and Headquarters Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Technical Training Division, Randolph AFB, Texas (2003).