Civil Air Patrol provides pilot education opportunities

Published 9:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2024

For those interested in helping out your community while getting flying education, the Civil Air Patrol is a no-brainer.

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a public service organization for carrying out emergency services and disaster relief missions nationwide. The program is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, where citizen volunteers fly to find the lost, provide comfort in times of disaster and work to keep the homeland safe.

At 56,000-plus members, participants volunteer their time to help communities and teach future aviators through their cadet program.

For Jacob G. Kite, the program was an opportunity to get into flying. Kite said he learned of the program through a referral from a homeschool organization, and he got into it.

“When I got into it, I realized it was a great organization to learn discipline, learn about the military, and explore that niche, as well as gain very helpful resources and skills that can be used in any situation in life,” Kite said.

Kite said people as young as 12 years old can get involved through the CAP cadet program. CAP’s other divisions provide aerospace education and emergency services for state and local agencies.

Through the aerospace education program, there are scholarship opportunities where people can learn to fly at little or no cost.

“You can actually co-pilot a plane with actual air force pilots, you get several of those [flights] while you’re a cadet, and you can do it for free paid for by the Civil Air Patrol. You also get several hot air balloon flights and glider flights,” Kite said, noting there are other programs that CAP provides scholarship opportunities where people can learn to fly planes, gliders or even helicopters.

“You can get a full-ride scholarship to actually get your pilot license before you turn 18,” he said.

For those interested in seeing what CAP is all about, Kite suggested joining in on one of their weekly meetings. The GA-153 West Georgia Composite Squadron meets most Mondays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the LaGrange Callaway Airport.

Kite said one of CAP’s community service events is their annual wreath-laying ceremony as part of Wreaths Across America (WAA). Every year the group places wreaths on the graves of former military service men and women. About 200 wreaths were laid at Restlawn Cemetery during last year’s ceremony in mid-December.

The West Georgia Composite Squadron is already fundraising for this year’s wreaths through Wreaths Across America. The cadets are asking donors to purchase wreaths through WAA that will be placed during this year’s ceremony in LaGrange on Dec. 14, 2024.

A single wreath can be sponsored for $17 at https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/176149.

For more information about Civil Air Patrol, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com.