Fly for free with Tahoe-Truckee’s Civil Air Patrol cadets |

Fly for free with Tahoe-Truckee’s Civil Air Patrol cadets

Erin LeFevers
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Are you interested in a program that offers young people, ages 12-18, a place to learn aerospace, search and rescue skills, leadership skills, character development, and the value of giving back to one’s community, while also being able to go flying?

That program is CAP — Civil Air Patrol.

CAP started in the 1940s as a way to provide homeland security during wartime. Other than wartime service, CAP involves itself in many other elements including search and rescue and color guard duties at local ceremonies for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

CAP has three missions: emergency services (search and rescue), the cadet program and aerospace education (Mission to Mars camp offered during the summer through the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District).

The CAP cadet program opens students up to a variety of experiences that range from elements of aerospace to earning one’s pilot’s license. Cadets have the opportunity to fly in both powered aircraft and gliders.

The cadet program also offers a military-like ranking system. This system promotes cadets after they have completed tasks in leadership, aerospace, character development and physical fitness.

Cadets learn about and practice the military customs and courtesies, such as when and how to address our nation’s flag and identifying others who are higher ranking than one’s self.

Cadets gain experience with aerospace through building rockets and other flight-based activities learned from participating in operational airplane/glider rides and course work.

Once cadets reach a certain rank, they are then eligible for attending national cadet programs, which include week long camps in engineering in Alabama, international cadet exchange and earning one’s pilot’s license.

Cadets also take part in state-level activities, encampments and wing conferences — where cadets from the state meet, plan activities, set goals for the wing, and compete in various activities like model aircraft and public speaking.

Even though CAP is a civilian branch of the U.S. Air Force and the cadets are required to wear military-like uniforms as well as adhere to military customs, cadets are not then required/mandated to go into the military after high school.

Some of our cadets have pursued careers in different branches of the nation’s military, but other cadets have taken their experiences from CAP into the private sector and have become successful members of the community.

The cadet program is open to boys and girls ages 12-18. Cadet meetings are held weekly on Thursdays at the Truckee Tahoe Airport at the far end of Hanger C. The meetings run from 6-8 p.m.

Second Lt. Erin LeFevers serves as Deputy Commander for Cadets in the Tahoe Truckee Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. For more information, visit or contact Erin LeFevers at

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