Friday, January 20, 2012

MARYLAND: Up in the air, Harford CAP trains young pilots

Cadet Tech Sgt. Michael Baselice on a recent orientation flight with the Harford Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. Michael, 14, is a fourth generation Civil Air Patrol member and attends Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air. (Photo courtesy of the Civil Air Patrol, Homestead Publishing)

The day many Americans were celebrating the freedoms that Martin Luther King's life stood for, some Harford County residents were experiencing another freedom – the freedom of flight.

The Harford County Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol,U.S. Air ForceAuxiliary, took part in orientation flights with their cadets on Monday, Jan. 16. The orientation flights introduce cadets to aviation and flight instruction.

For many of the cadets, this is their first experience in flying, much less at the control of a plane.

"Our orientation flights not only allow our cadets to learn about flight, but to also experience it as a pilot," 2nd Lt. Tracy Urena, public affairs officer for the organization, said. "They always come off their first flight with the biggest smile on their face which is really rewarding."

Cadets, ages 12-18, fly airplanes and gliders in the Civil Air Patrol. These orientation flights are the first step in the cadets learning how to fly and becoming FAA certified pilots.

"This was my 6th flight. It is such an amazing experience to be able to go up in the air at 14 and already know what needs to be done to fly the plane," Cadet Tech Sgt. Michael Baselice said after landing Monday. Michael is 14 and is a fourth generation Civil Air Patrol member. He goes to Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air.

The objective of the aerospace education mission of CAP is to promote an understanding and appreciation of the impact of aviation and aerospace in participants' everyday lives.

Nationwide, CAP is a major operator of single-engine general aviation aircraft, used in the execution of its various missions, including orientation flights for cadets and the provision of significant emergency services capabilities. The civilian pilots who volunteer to fly various missions for CAP come from various backgrounds, such as airlines pilots or retired military pilots.

The Harford County Squadron meets 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays at the Harford Airport on Aldino Road in Churchville.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of theU.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.

The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 26,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 69 years. It is the largest sponsor annually of Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices ofU.S. militaryveterans.

For more information on Civil Air Patrol, visit or

More than 1,500 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit


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