Frequently Asked Questions (Files are available for download below):

1.                  Q:  When does the flight depart the airport?  A:  It varies on availability of pilot, planes,  and cadets, and depending on the number of cadets who sign up for Orientation flights.  For a typical Oride day, the cadets and pilot usually meet at the General Aviation building.   The meeting point and the meeting time will be known and shared beforehand.  Parents will be given an estimated return time.  After a brief discussion about aerospace science and the plan for the day, cadets (and parents too if they wish) proceed to the aircraft to preflight it and get it ready.  The discussion and preflighting (inspecting) the aircraft on the ground before departure from the airport takes about 1 hour.  Parents are encouraged to join us during this discussion and inspection.  The departure is usually planned for around an hour after the initial meeting. 

2.                  Q:  When does the flight return to the airport?  A:  The pilot plans for about one hour per  cadet on the flight, plus time on the ground and refueling.  An estimate for planning purposes is that 3 cadets can fly and return in about 4 hours after the initial departure from the airport.   Flying 2 cadets takes about 3 hours total.  After we return there is a short debriefing.  We plan to return before sunset. 

3.                  Q:  What are some of the things that can delay return to the airport?  A:   passenger sickness, weather, mechanical problems, stopping for lunch, etc.  

4.                  Q:  What happens if the return time is delayed? A:   Our procedures require that a person (called the Flight Release Officer, or FRO) monitors the progress of each leg of the flight. The FRO will have information on the whereabouts of the flight. The cadets are encouraged to call their parents if we are delayed in returning, out of consideration for arranging a pickup time.

5.                  Q:  Communications:  Cadets can carry cell phones to update parents throughout the day (only while on the ground).  The pilot also carries a cell phone.  The pilot carries a cell phone and will return calls after landing, but will not answer calls during a flight.  Some pilots have phones which are SMS text-capable. The pilot cell phone is available to cadets for brief updates to parents.lease Officer, or FRO) monitors the progress of each leg of the flight.  The FRO will have information on the whereabouts of the flight. The FRO can be reached via phone at the number provided to parents beforehand. The cadets are encouraged to call their parents if we are delayed in returning, out of consideration for arranging a pickup time. 

6.                  Q:  We showed up and the flight got cancelled for bad weather.  What now?   A:  Weather happens.  If we get grounded at the airport rather than at a distant airport, it’s all part of the adventure of being a young person, making safe choices, and hopefully teaches something about weather, risk assessment and decision-making.  We will reschedule the flight for a better day.

7.                  Q:  How would weather or a mechanical problem delay a flight?  A:  Weather can change quickly and is a real issue in the Pacific Northwest.  Every O-flight schedule is subject to weather -  we need a cloud ceiling of 3000 feet or higher, and 3 miles visibility or better.  Pilots check the aviation weather forecast to decide if and where they safely fly, but even short term forecasts can be wrong.   If we fly to an airport and the weather closes in, we cannot proceed with the flight.    This conservative approach can mean that a flight into some weather conditions - which might be perfectly legal to fly according to the FAA and CAP regulations -  could be delayed or cancelled due to a pilot’s personal conservative approach to weather safety when flying cadets. 

8.                  Q:  My son/daughter has never been in a plane and is uncertain about flying…  A: A cadet’s previous flight experience matters.  A flight on a windy day might be postponed if the cadets are new to aviation or prone to airsickness.  The same flight might launch if the pilot knows the cadets are OK with (or in many cases, seek out) turbulence.  The aircraft is carefully checked for mechanical performance before every takeoff and any indication of a problem will cancel the flight.  The volunteer pilots who contribute to our Orientation Flight Program are trained to take no unreasonable risks with the flight or the cadets.

9.                  Q:  What happens if there is an extended delay at a different airport due to weather or mechanical problem?  A:  There is a remote possibility that we could discover a mechanical problem or weather risk at some airport other than home base.  Meaning: we fly out, land, and discover a good reason not to continue the ORides.   If we are grounded due to weather or mechanical problem, we could be at a distant airport and will need some alternate way back home.  This has happened.  Our first step is to let the FRO and parents know where we are, that we’re safe, and the reason for the delay.  The second step is to make a plan on how and when we will return.  This could involve staying overnight in a motel waiting for weather to clear up, or taking a rental car/ferry/bus, or being fetched by a generous parent.   The out-of-pocket costs associated with these transportation alternatives are not covered by the Air Force, but may be shared equally among the pilot and cadets/parents.

10.           Q:  Because there is always a remote possibility of an extended delay, how should parents prepare their cadets?  A:  The pilot can cover the immediate costs of a motel, food, ferry and bus fare (these costs are shared later), but cadets should bring some meal money plus any medications.

11.       Q: Which uniform should I wear?  A:  Glider O-ride uniform requirements are different than Powered O-Ride uniform requirements. This partly because combat boots are hard on the small cockpit interiors of the gliders.  It also gets warm up there in the gliders.

For Powered Orientation Flights, wear the standard BDU (camo pants and blouse, and boots).  

For Glider Orientation Flights, civilian attire, soft hat, sunglasses, no boots - read the file "Cadets - glider ORide Information.pdf" below for details.  There's also a good site on WAWG Glider Operations.

Many times we also offer powered Orientation Flights along with glider flights. If your squadron commander has no objections, you should also bring along your BDUs for a powered orientation flight.  Recommended to wear:

12.        Q:  If I fly a Powered ORide to the Glider ORide activity, which uniform should I bring?  A:  Both.  For your powered flight to and from Chehalis, you must be in BDUs (including combat boots).  For your glider flight, the BDU blouse is optional, and you must wear tennis shoes.  I recommend that you wear your combat boots and carry your tennis shoes in a pack.  On arrival in Chehalis, change into the Glider Uniform and prior to return, back into full BDUs and combat boots.

13.        Q:  What to Bring?  A:   Recommended to bring:

14.        Q:  Should I bring snacks or a lunch?  A:  Yes - this is covered in the Oride Information instructions below, but I include it again here to emphasize the point.  Also bring some cash in case we stop in at an airport deli. 

15.        Q:  What Safety Training stuff do I need to complete before getting into an airplane?  A:  Orientation flights are available only to current CAP cadets under 18 years of age, who are also current on their Safety Training and other CAP requirements.  The Squadron Commander is ultimately responsible for making sure cadets have met the required Safety Training and other requirements, however cadets may be asked to confirm that they are Safety Current.  "Safety Current" means:  Safety education and other Requirements have been completed, including:

1.         Introduction to CAP Safety – CAPR 62-1 (online)

2.         Monthly Safety Training – CAPR 62-1  (online or in person)

3.         Operational Risk Management (ORM) Basic Course – WAWG Supp CAPR 62-1.  (online)

4.         Annual Aircraft Ground Handling Video – WAWG Supp CAPR 62-1  (online)

5.         Other safety training requirements as may be required by WA Wing and described on (this) WAWG webpage for Orientation Flights (Powered).

    You can check your own Safety Currency here online.

16.        Q:  If there are more cadets than pilots+airplanes, who has priority to fly?  A: Washington Wing acknowledges National Headquarters goals to provide each new cadet with an orientation flight within 60 days of joining, provide the opportunity for at least 1 and preferably two flights per year, to foster and maintain an interest in aviation, and to help support cadets for their advancement within CAP.  In support of these goals WAWG has established the following priorities for cadet front seat powered orientation flights:

 Priority 1 - Cadets who have not had a front seat powered orientation flight. 

 Priority 2 - Cadets whose most recent front seat, powered  orientation flight was more than 9 months prior to the date of the flight. 

Back seat powered observation flights (mission code A-99) are not subject to the Priority Guidelines, and these A-99 flights are available to any cadet under the age of 18 may, if space is available.  Glider Orientation Flights are not subject to the Washington Wing priorities for front seat powered orientation flights.  Nor does the number of prior glider orientation flights affect a cadet’s priority for front seat powered orientation flights. Exceptions to the priorities established above are allowed for unique or special circumstances or events. 

17.        Q:  My squadron does not have an aircraft assigned to it.  How do we arrange an Orientation Flight Day?   A:  The majority of squadrons do not have aircraft.  Those that do have aircraft assigned are called "Custodial Squadrons".  There are two options for your squadron - drive to a Custodial Squadron, or arrange for an aircraft to come to an airport in your area.  Both methods are frequently used.  Almost all squadrons are within an hour flight from a Custodial Squadron.  

To arrange an ORide Day, contact me by email and we can work out the details of who/what/when/where.  It will be helpful to designate a point of contact (usually called the Unit Orientation Flight Coordinator) to handle the planning details, found below at "Coordinators - Example Orientation Ride Day Planning Checklist.docx".

18.        Q:  I need ideas for when my squadron should hold an ORide Event.  A:  Though not required, it is often more interesting for both cadets and pilots to combine ORides with aviation events.  I have compiled a spreadsheet of Washington State aviation events (2014).  See below.  You could use this list to plan your ORide day combined with some aviation event. Sometimes squadrons have their cadets help with an airport event (directing cars, flight line, crowd control, etc.), and these combined events can be ideal for planning ORides for your cadets.  We conduct combined events like this at Olympic Airshow, Arlington Airshow, Paine Field Aviation Day, Heritage Flight Museum Fly-days, Emergency Services Training Academy (ESTA) in Ephrata, and at many other events.

This spreadsheet is a "living document", meaning that it is updated when I learn about new events.  If you know of an event in WA and it's not on the list, let me know.

Aside:  Combined events where there is a cadet presence together with the CAP aircraft providing ORides can also be an outstanding recruiting tool.  The way to execute on this recruiting is to contact the event organizer (links are in the spreadsheet) and inquire about how the cadets can be involved in the event operations.  Make a pitch for crowd control, parking, info booth, flight line services, etc. Then contact me and we'll see what we can pull together for 1-2 aircraft to fly in and provide ORides.

19.        Q:  My Orientation Flight Day was rained-out...Now What?   A:  You did have a Plan B / Rain Date, right?  If not, simply make a plan to reschedule.  Weather happens.  Your pilot will need minimum weather conditions to fly ORides, including at least 3 miles visibility and cloud bases of at least 3000 feet above ground level ("AGL").

The Orientation Flight flying in WA state depends much on the weather, as this chart shows (the black line shows rainfall):

Total 2012-2013 Oride Hours:  518

20.        Q:  How is this year shaping up for O-Rides?     A:  As of 2014-05, we're looking good on resources - plenty of funding, aircraft are up and ready, ORide pilot cadre remains at normal strength.   Bad weather and cancellations have been problems this year, plus repairs to the tow planes, but May 2014 had a big recovery. The weather has turned around and I am optimistic that we will have another outstanding year with the Cadet Orientation Flight Program.