Civil Air Patrol
  • Aircrew returing to base

Maryland cadets fly orientation flights over West Virginia mountains

July 8, 2019 — PETERSBURG, W.Va.  — For Civil Air Patrol cadets from Maryland, a weekend trip to the West Virginia mountains on June 28-30 was an opportunity for orientation flights, camaraderie, and search and rescue training.

Seventeen Harford Composite Squadron cadets and seven senior members traveled to Grant County Airport in Petersburg, W.Va., hoping for a super-orientation flight weekend. The airport is famous for its glider flights.

Cadet Zachary Conger, age 12, started his glider flight as the one-mile long cable, attached to a motorized winch at the other end of the runway, launched the aircraft from zero to 60 miles per hour in just over two seconds.

Lt. Col. Brian Collins, a member of the CAP Maryland Wing Headquarters Squadron, instructed Conger on how to fly the aircraft and turned over the controls during portions of the flight. Earlier, Collins briefed the cadets what they needed to know for their day of glider flights.

As luck would have it, this was to be the only glider flight of the weekend as the motorized winch had a mechanical issue that prevents launching further flights.

But the cadets took the disappointment in stride. Civil Air Patrol pilots had flown in two powered aircraft for the weekend and were able to give extended orientation flights over West Virginia. Cadets also picked up search and rescue training skills in a classroom environment at the airport.

“Harford Composite Squadron is fortunate enough to have highly motivated and adaptable cadets,” said 1st Lt. Jake Aytes. “Despite not being able to fly in gliders they were more than willing to learn about our emergency services mission.”

“While CAP cadets may have a particular interest in one of CAP’s missions, having a firm understanding of all three of our missions can be seen as exceptionally useful,” Aytes said.

“The future leaders of America will need to be well rounded and adaptable,” he said.

Cadet Zanaida Cannon-Barker, 12, who joined Civil Air Patrol in May 2019, went for a two-hour orientation flight in a Cessna 172 aircraft during the flight from Baltimore to Petersburg.

“I joined for one reason,” Cannon-Barker said. “I wanted to do something after school and I want to join the Navy when I grow up, so I wanted to get some experience with this.”

Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Cadets, from ages 12 to 18, learn discipline, leadership and aerospace skills that may help them in an increasingly complex world where science, technology, engineering and mathematics are valuable skills.

The cadets usually get five powered orientation flights and five glider flights during their tenure in the program.

Civil Air Patrol also provides emergency services and aerospace education programs.

The Harford squadron is a composite of both adult and youth programs. The unit meets Monday nights, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., in the STEM Center Building 4508, located at 6483 Wayberry Road at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. 

Do you have a passion for aviation, dream of flight, or are considering a career in the military? Do you want to serve your community and enhance your leadership skills? Join us. Youths, ages 12 to 18, as well as parents and adults interested in the cadet and/or senior program are welcome to visit meetings and talk with the staff. Follow the squadron on Facebook.

Nearly 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at or follow the wing on Facebook at

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 82 lives annually. CAP’s 61,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for information.


Photos (left to right)

Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol cadets prepare a glider for flight during a super-orientation flight weekend June 28-30 at Grant County Airport, Petersburg, W.Va. (Photo by 2nd Lt. David McNally, CAP)

Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Brian Collins (right) briefs Cadet Zachary Conger before a glider flight at Grant County Airport in Petersburg, W.Va., June 29, 2019. Conger was one of 17 Maryland Wing CAP cadets who traveled to the mountains for a weekend of orientation flights. (Photo by 2nd Lt. David McNally, CAP)

2nd Lt. David McNally, CAP
Public Affairs
Harford Composite Squadron

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