Responding to a Need
CAP has been especially excited to take the first steps to
dramatically increase the number of pilots through
its newly launched National Advanced Flight Academy, or
NAFA, for CAP cadets. Throughout the years, the organization has been the path for many young people to learn to fly,
but now a nationwide pilot shortage is making it imperative
to increase the number of new pilots both for the military and in the private sector.
Regional carriers are already feeling the pinch, sometimes
resulting in canceled flights and reduced service to less-traveled areas. Major airlines will be next.
Taking a page from the Air Cadet League of Canada,
which has a record of training 400 or more youth annually
to achieve their private pilot certificates, CAP has responded
with a goal of its own to pave the way for 500 young Americans to do likewise every year. has 24,000 motivated
and pre-vetted cadets interested in careers in aviation,
STEM and said Lt. Col. Leslie Vazquez,
Interest from the cadets is high, but so are the costs. CAP
is offering two types of private pilot scholarship programs
ranging from $10,000 to $12,000 for local flight training to
$16,000 each at a four-year aviation university, where students will be exposed to aviation career paths and have the
opportunity to connect with their scholarship sponsor and
be further mentored.
The second program, NAFA, is in test status with flight
training planned for June 2017. Civil Air Patrol Corp. has
sponsored the first five NAFA scholarships. Meanwhile,
CAP continues working with the aviation and aerospace
industries to follow suit, if the program is approved.
CAP is also working to beef up its number of National
Flight Academies, where the desired result is simpler: to
instill a love of aviation. Instruction is offered in powered
aircraft, gliders, hot-air balloons and unmanned aerial systems, depending on the academy. Many powered flight
academy participants are able to solo but will still need help
such as that provided through NAFA to get licensed.
decades ago there was not a pilot shortage, and
cadets came to the flight academies for a multitude of reasons, but most wanted to just see what this aviation thing is
all about. Only a few had becoming a pilot in said
Col. Gene Hartman, longtime director of the National
Flight Academy at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
when you talk to a new class at the academy
62 Civil Air Patrol Volunteer
Civil Air cadet program was established in October
1942, about 10 months after the founding.
Some 20,000 youth quickly joined, and within a few months
their numbers had climbed to 75,000.
Harlan Petersburg helped
form and lead the first cadet
squadron in the Minnesota
Wing and possibly CAP. He
then went on to become one
of the first CAP cadets to
join the U.S. Army Air
Forces, and he flew in
combat in the Pacific
most of the cadets have already set their goals to be a
Hartman said. is our job as CAP members to see that
the training we give them puts them on the right
Cadets can participate in orientation flights at age 12
when they join CAP. At 16, they can attend a National
Flight Academy and solo an aircraft.