Civil Air Patrol demonstrates glider skills |

Civil Air Patrol demonstrates glider skills

by Amy Alonzo
A pilot in Cesna 182 tows a glider into the air over the Minden-Tahoe Airport.
Amy Alonzo |

The Carson Valley is a mecca for glider flying, and last week members of the Douglas County Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol demonstrated their flying skills to members of the Civil Air Patrol-United States Air Force.

The CAP-USAF serves as the liaison group between the Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force. The CAP-USAF was in the South Lake Tahoe area for its annual conference.

“We’re responsible to look over the shoulder of CAP, and it’s hard to monitor them if you don’t understand what they’re doing. These guys are spot on,” said CAP-USAF Col. Sammy Pierce. “What these guys are teaching us is how to read the environment and stay airborn without an engine. I’ve never had to look and find a way to climb without a motor … There’s no purer form of flying than you and a wing and some air.”

Last week’s exercises at the Minden-Tahoe Airport allowed CAP-USAF members to better understand the air patrol’s workings.

Pilots in Cessna 182s towed gliders into the air, where they were released for flight.

“If you learn to fly a glider, you’ll be a better pilot,” said Bob Semans, a 14-year CAP member. “The gliders are very aerodynamically clean.”

About five Civil Air Patrol pilots and 10 Air Force pilots participated in the exercises, Semans said.

The Civil Air Patrol was formed on Dec. 1, 1941, during World War II, as a way to protect the country’s shorelines from German U-boats. The patrol is an auxiliary unit of the U.S. Air Force.

Today the organization of volunteers is about 56,000 members strong and has three primary goals: offering aerospace education and cadet services and providing emergency services, said Reno Composite Squadron Public Affairs Officer Lt. Mark Silver. The Douglas County squadron has about 20 cadets and 35 senior members.

Earlier this year Reno and Douglas County CAP members did an aerial survey of the Lahontan Dam, Silver said. Last week’s exercises allowed CAP-USAF officials to get, “firsthand experience of what we do.”

“Glider flying is an important part of aerospace education for the Civil Air Patrol and its cadets,” Silver said. “Many times this is the first introduction to aviation and is a gateway to future careers in flying.”