Current MNWG Asst Dir of Aerospace Education – Internal, Maj James Zurales shared this message via MNWG Announcements on July 9, 2020.

Do you have a passionate desire for aviation?  Were you born to fly airplanes and poke holes in the atmosphere?  If so, there’s no better way to skyrocket your level of Aerospace Education than taking advantage of one of the best benefits of cadet membership: relatively inexpensive flight instruction!

Although you may know there are too few instructors to fill the need, this note may help you become more competitive to increase your chances of securing a CAP instructor for a course of Private Pilot flight training.   While you should research flight academies on the national website and the Cadet Wings Program with CAPP 60-43, this email addresses flight instruction at the squadron level.

THINGS YOU CAN DO to help entice an instructor to donate their valuable time and skills to train you.

* Get your orientation flights in!  Five free powered flights and five free glider flights are waiting for cadets under age 18.  Pay attention and learn.  Your potential instructor will be pleased that you have some flying experience under your belt.

*Invest in a computer flight simulator program such as X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator for about the cost of a single flight lesson at a regular flight school.  The very best flight students have spent a hundreds of hours flying their home simulators which teach them a tremendous amount about flying before their first flight lesson.   Some instructors might require at least 25 hours of simulator flying at home before taking you on.  This shows a strong dedication to aviation and your pursuit of excellence.

*Get the $250 Sporty’s Pilot Shop Online Private Pilot Groundschool Course FOR FREE through the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program.  By taking an EAA Young Eagles flight or a CAP orientation flight, you are eligible to get nearly $700 worth of aviation goods at no cost!!!  First, you get your free flight.  Then you receive the $250 groundschool course.  When you take your Private Pilot written exam, it will cost you around $160 and the program will then send you a check to reimburse that cost to you along with a certificate to take another introductory flight at a nearby airport!  If you’ve had an orientation flight, you can sign up using the link below. (You’ll need your flight date, pilots name, and the airport. In the airport section, also write Civil Air Patrol.)  Click on JOIN NOW.  Then click Sign Up.  Fill in the necessary information.  When you get to the Student Activation Code, click “I do not have my activation code.”  Enter the date, airport, and pilot name for your orientation flight.  Be sure to click the box for the free Learn to Fly course.  You even get admission to museums and membership in the Association of Model Aeronautics!

*Once you have the groundschool course, start studying!  Some instructors prefer at least half of the course to be completed before starting flight training.

*Complete the course and take your Private Pilot written exam.  Some instructors won’t start flight training unless your written is complete.   This shows the instructor you are serious and that you will show up for your first lesson already prepared with a great deal of aviation knowledge.

*Advance and excel in the CAP program.  If you have been a member for 3 years and only have 3 stripes, that may indicate to an instructor a lack of motivation.  Promote at a good rate, participate actively by attending meetings and activities, and secure leadership positions like Aerospace Cadet, staff positions, etc.  The world is loaded with average.  Be ABOVE average and good things will happen to you.

*Be persistent and courteous.  Using basic common courtesy (like being polite and always responding to emails promptly) bodes well, especially if the cadet requests instruction again at a later date.  Persistence is important.  Try numerous instructors and check back again periodically.  This shows that you are serious about your desire to fly.  Don’t just give up, but be courteous and not overly persistent in your inquiries.

*Try to be as available as you possibly can.  If you have two jobs, are in school, are in CAP, and in three school clubs, you may limit the opportunities an instructor has to provide you instruction.  When you prioritize your flight training, it shows the instructor that you are serious about earning your pilot license.  Certainly, cadets often must work to help pay for their flight training.  But be aware that a regular course of Private Pilot instruction in CAP may cost as little as $3,500 while training at a local flight school may easily cost $8,000 – $13,000.  So realizing that saving at least $4,000 in flight training costs may help you appreciate and prioritize the tremendous cost benefit of CAP flight training.

*Consider your age when seeking flight instruction.  An instructor is unlikely to take on a 14 year-old student when they must wait until they’re 16 to solo and 17 to get the license.  If young, use that time to fly your simulator, work on the groundschool, advance and excel in CAP, and establish contacts with instructors.

*Consider asking the instructor for a SOLO instructorship.  It is a huge commitment for an instructor to take on a student for a full Private Pilot course.  You may have better luck getting an instructor sooner by asking for a commitment to train only to SOLO.  Although continuity with the same instructor is good, flight academies train to solo every year and it works out fine for the student when they continue training elsewhere.  Also, soloing is a requirement for the Cadet Wings program so getting soloed earlier might work very well to your advantage.

*Try to have enough funds available to at least take you through solo, flying once or twice a week to avoid large gaps between flights. You might possibly solo between 7 and 15 hours of training or more depending on performance.

*Do extra aviation related things.  Get a subscription to an aviation magazine, watch aviation youtube videos, go to airshows, go to air museums, do some planespotting at the airport, etc.

*Where are the instructors?  A listing of CAP flight instructors can be found on the CAP intranet.
Operations > Reports > Instructor Pilot-Airplane    Find instructors in your area.  Perhaps avoid requesting a Lakeville instructor if you live north of Anoka unless you’re willing to do a tremendous amount of driving.  Also, ensure their instructor qualification is current before making an inquiry. (Date in red on list if expired)   Don’t limit yourself only to instructors in your squadron.  Remember to always include another senior in your emails to seniors.  You may wish to talk to your squadron staff for guidance before pursuing instructors.  Remember, asking instructors to voluntarily donate a significant amount of time from their busy lives to train you is a big ask.  Making yourself as attractive a potential student as possible will help them agree to fly with you.

 In conclusion, I hope my own story offers some inspiration.  46 years ago, I joined CAP as a young cadet with a lifelong passion for aviation and a goal to spend my life flying.  As a cadet, CAP provided my start with the opportunity to solo a glider, solo a hot air balloon, and earn a commercial glider certificate.  As a senior member, CAP fed hundreds of hours to my logbook flying orientation flights, maintenance flights, search and rescue training flights, UAS escort flights, training cadets and seniors, and inexpensive proficiency flights.  Now on the other end, I am approaching the conclusion of a 31,000 flight hour career as a Delta airlines 757/767 Captain having spent the equivalent of 3 1/2 years of my life above the surface of the earth.  Many other CAP members have had similar career paths, getting their start with CAP.  For cadets aspiring to an aviation career, I wish you all the best in achieving an even more exciting and rewarding life in aviation and hope CAP can be a part of your success now and into the far distant future.   Someone once said that luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.  Hopefully this message can help you create your own luck in your aviation endeavors.