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Civil Air Patrol Cessna and Glider Cadet orientation flights soar through the Tehachapi Valley


March 14, 2020

C/1st Lt Laramie Uhles

Orientation flights - Cessna Capt. Silke Eyles, Pilot CAP Cessna 206 with Bakersfield Composite Sq121 Cadets and Tehachapi Composite Squadron 46.

On Sunday, Feb. 23, it was a picture perfect weather day for flying out of Tehachapi's Mountain Valley Airport for 18 young California Wing Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets. The cadets, whose age ranged from 12-18, were from local CAP squadrons, including Edwards AFB Composite Squadron 84, Rosamond Pancho Barnes Composite Squadron 49 and Tehachapi Composite Squadron 46. Due to the cooperating weather several cadets received their first flight in a Cessna or glider aircraft.

Maj. John Chapman, the Glider Orientation Ride Pilot, also the CAP Los Alamitos Squadron 41 Commander, flew the 1970 Schweizer glider N65824, and is a retired United States Navy Senior Chief. Maj. Chapman brought his glider flying skills for the cadets to experience a first time glider orientation flight. Chapman has been a Certificated Flight Instructor – Glider (CFIG) since 1976, 44 years to date with 7,000 flights and 2,300 hours in gliders.

Gary Aldrich, the glider tow pilot, is a flight instructor with the Edwards AFB 412th Test Wing Test Pilot School (TPS), and is a retired United States Air Force Test Pilot School Instructor. Aldrich was at the controls of the Piper Pawnee 25, otherwise known as a crop duster airplane.

CAP Capt. Silke Eyles flew in on a new CAP Cessna 206 from the Bakersfield Composite Squadron 121, Group 6 headquarters which is located at Meadows Field airport, in Bakersfield. Capt. Eyles was able to provide cadets front and back seat rotation orientation flights, which included the family of four Robles cadets. Eyles is currently a CAP instructor pilot, transport mission pilot and check pilot, a flight instructor with the California Aeronautical University, and previously an instructor with the Edwards AFB Aeroclub.

Members from the Bakersfield Composite Squadron 121 provided Flight Operations support. C/1st Laramie Uhles led his team in coordinating administrative, flight line marshaling, flight schedules and public affairs duties, along with Maj. Chapman and Maj. Gail Harper.

Maj. Harper said she was amazed and so proud of these cadets in the level of education and professionalism displayed, in a full day of orientation flight duties.

During the Glider Orientation flight (O-Ride), the Cadets learned about Glider Ground Handling, Preflight, Takeoff and Landing. The Cadet in the front seat released the tow line from the Tow Plane and then flew the Glider under instruction.

Maj. Harper had requested the cadets provide an honest opinion for their flight experiences in both types of aircraft for the weekend flights throughout the Tehachapi Valley and nearby airports. Here are a few cadet comments:

Cadet Miguel Camarena Sq46: "The glider and powered (Orientation) flights were fun. I liked learning about how a glider relies on wind and how an engine powered airplane relies on fuel. What I enjoyed most on the glider was releasing the tow cable. On the powered flight, I really liked working on turning the airplane. I really hope I can fly again."

C/Amn Jonathen Madrigal Sq84: "I was very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Tehachapi Cessna and Glider O-Rides (Orientation flights). I can't express this enough, it was an amazing experience! It has truly piqued my interest in aviation."

C/2Lt Drew Robles Sq46: "I really enjoyed flying in the glider. It was interesting learning and feeling how the glider handles as compared to a powered aircraft. It is a lot more visual than flying powered and there is no engine noise."

Cadet Staff Sergeant Micah Billingsley Sq84: "The O-Rides in the Tehachapi glider airport (MVA-L94) were very unique compared to the powered flights that CAP provided. Flying and navigation is much different in the glider then in a Cessna. You spent almost no time looking at the gauges in the cockpit and spent the majority of your time looking out the window, flying visually. This was an incredible experience and I am grateful for CAP making this work! I look forward to the next glider flight I will take!

Cadet Jacob Billingsley: "I had a great time! It was amazing to be in the sky in the cockpit for the first time in a glider. I loved being able to hold the controls and being taught all about it. Thank you for the opportunity."

C/1st Lt Laramie Uhles

Cadet Taft lifting wing of Schweitzer glider with Pilot Maj. John Chapman and Cadet Sgt. Micah Billingsley inside.

Without the dedication of qualified and trained civilian or active duty military volunteers, this aerospace education flight orientation program would not exist.

The Civil Air Patrol (CAP), is officially a member of the U.S. Air Force's Total Force of American Airmen. CAP is a nonprofit organization with more than 56,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. Inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the AF, and in fiscal year 2020, is already credited with saving 52 lives. It's volunteers also perform Homeland security, disaster relief and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP Senior members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the nearly 22,000 Young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 78 years. For more information, go to


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