Civil Air Patrol offers local teens a chance to soar with cadet program
Eight Coast teens got to fly -- for a while -- a single-engine plane at more than 2,500 feet Sept. 20. The Civil Air Patrol cadet program flew out of the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
Pilot Bill Henry said the experience was part of an orientation the Civil Air Patrol offers teenagers who want to learn more about flying.
"Most kids spend their days inside, in front of a computer," he said. "Being 2,000 feet in the air is incredibly exciting for the cadets."
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The cadet program lets teens work toward five hour-long flights that teach them about navigation, weather, aircraft instruments, and flight maneuvers.
"Once the pilots get it to a safe height of about 3,000 feet, the cadets are handed the controls," Henry said. "Some were even able to fly over their homes."
Henry said each flight is like a test at the end of a chapter. The flights put into practice what the cadets learned, he said.
Kai Siangco, Kaekoa Siangco, Luis Cruz IV, Carter Gracin, Connor McClellan, Percy Barberena, Haly Holtorf and Noah Bend are the cadets participating in this year's program.
Henry said they began their day by working with their pilot to prepare the aircraft for the flight.
"They do everything a pilot would do," he said. "This is the closest they'll get to the real thing."
Capt. Ron Taglieri and Lt. Col. Danny Watson volunteered their time to assist the cadets, Henry said.
"We do it for the kids," Henry said. "We were in their shoes once."
The Civil Air Patrol flies each week during the summer looking for stranded boaters, and provides aerial photography when needed, Henry said.
"There are certainly ways to continue flying locally once these kids graduate the program," he said. "The Civil Air Patrol offers plenty of opportunities for them to enjoy the air."
The fred cadet program is open kids to 12 and 18 years old, Henry said.