Six cadets with the Gorge Composite Squadron completed their first of five Orientation Flights as members of the Civil Air Patrol.
Sunday morning, a CAP Cessna 182 took off from Ken Jernstedt Airfield with Capt. Daniel Bradley in command, Cadet Senior Airman Maranatha Beckman (16), in the copilot seat, and Cadet Airman 1st Class Connor McKibben (14) and Cadet Airman Kadin Patterson (13) in the back seats.
Beckman took the controls for much of the one-hour flight to Bend. During a brief stop, Patterson moved to the front seat and then assisted on the flight to Salem. After another brief stop, McKibben took the controls during the return flight to Hood River.
“That was outstanding,” said McKibbin after the flight.
He later went on to say, “My favorite was the turbulence ... It was unpredictable, and that’s what made it exciting. This was my first time ever in any aircraft, so that was thrilling. It’s such an excellent experience to find out about flying as a career or even a hobby. You really do get to actually pilot the plane, and it’s just amazing, and I would absolutely do it again. No other experience can simulate it, I don’t think. Nothing can come close to the reality of it. You wanna keep going. It’s an astounding feeling.”
When asked what her favorite part of the flight was, Beckman said, “You could see the effects of your actions on not only the plane, but also the effects on the other people in the plane ... Communicating with other pilots was super fun.” The list went on: “There are so many limits when you are driving a car, compared with flying ... I got to fly with no-hands. It’s amazing how quickly the altitude can change with headwinds and tailwinds. I got to do a large portion of the descent into Bend.”
He added, “You are really in control there, and you have a lot of responsibilities, but it’s so fun! You use the pedals way more than I expected, and the turbulence was exhilarating ... it was like a charging invisible bull ... You didn’t know which way it was going to hit you.”
In the afternoon, as the wind picked up, Cadet Airman Owen Tatersol (13) took the front seat for the second flight to Chehalis, Wash. From there, Cadet Airman Zeke Porter (15) had his turn from Chehalis to Ellensburg. Finally, Cadet Airman 1st Class Isaac Walker (16) took the controls on the way home.
When the cadets were asked about what they would say to people considering CAP or other cadets thinking about taking their orientation flights, Patterson noted, “Do it cause it’s really fun and you’ll really like it.”
Beckman said, “Even if you think that you don’t like flying, or that you get airsick or something... You just have to try it ... It will appeal to lots of different people ... And be ready to bond with the people you go up with.”
This was on the tail of an Orientation Flight, last weekend, where Cadet Airman 1st Class Landon Flemmer, Cadet Senior Airman Travis Wayda and Cadet Staff Sergeant Ryan Betts all took turns flying from Hood River to Wasco, Wasco to Goldendale, and then back to Hood River.
Each CAP cadet is eligible for five flights in a powered aircraft (usually a single engine Cessna) and five flights in a glider aircraft. The Civil Air Patrol Oregon Wing owns eight single-engine aircraft, which are used for search and rescue, emergency services, and orientation flights for cadets throughout the state. Orientation pilots like Capt. Bradley have extensive training with CAP to teach the fundamentals of flight in a truly hands-on learning environment.
An open house is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 from 7-9 p.m. at Tac Aero at Jernstedt Airfield, 3650 Airport Drive.
“Whether they’re interested in a career in science, a future in the military, or are just fascinated by aviation, CAP is a great place for youth to gain skills, learn leadership, a have a good time,” said Flight Commander Maj. David King. “We hope to see many future leaders and their parents on June 18 at the airport.”
CAP’s Gorge Composite Squadron started in October 2017 and is one of 13 local units in Oregon. Its 35 cadets focus on leadership, character development, aerospace education and physical training at their weekly meetings, Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. at the Hood Tech Aero hanger. Additional orientation flights will be scheduled in June, July and August.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for more information.