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The California Wing operates 3 gliders in its glider program:

- An L-23 Super Blanik based at Byron, near the San Francisco Bay Area

- An L-23 Super Blanik and a Schweizer 2-33 based at Los Alamitos, near Los Angeles

Volunteer glider pilots regularly provide glider orientation rides to cadets throughout California, with glider operations held almost every week.

For more information contact the following:

Northern California: Email Byron Glider member Lt Matthew Gast at matthew.gast @

Southern California: Los Alamitos Glider Training Sqdn 41

CAWG Glider


Orientation Ride FAQ's

Question: Who can participate?

Answer: The Civil Air patrol Cadet Orientation Flight Program is open to all Civil Air Patrol Cadets under the age of 18 that have received their CAPID card, are safety current and are actively enrolled in a squadron.

Question: How much does is cost?

Answer: Nothing. The cadet Orientation Ride Program is offered at no charge to qualified cadets. Often the flights will include lunch or and snack that is provided at no cost to the cadets.

Question: Is it safe?

Answer: Absolutely!, The Civil Air Patrol takes the safety of its cadets very seriously.  Civil Air Patrol Cadet Orientation Pilots are required to meet standards that exceed those required by the FAA. Every pilot that flies cadets must undergo annual check rides and complete additional training in order to be allowed the privilege of flying our cadets.

Question: What do I need to bring?

Answer: Everyone must have their CAPID card with them to participate in a flight. Also the cadets are encouraged to bring a camera and should wear a uniform appropriate for the weather. BDU's are the recommended uniform for most flights. If you do not have BDU's then you can wear any approved uniform combination, such as a squadron shirt and slacks. Bottled water will be provided for every flight and is the only drink permitted in the aircraft.

Question: How long does it take?

Answer: Depending on the number of cadets participating and the activities planned for the flight, the flights can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. You will be advised as to the estimated time that is planned for the flight when you sign up.

Question: How many flights can I take?

Answer: You are allowed five powered and five glider flights as part of the Orientation Flight Program before you reach 18 years old. These are front seat flights where you get to actually fly the airplane. You are allowed a unlimited number of "back seat" flights, this means that you can participate in an Orientation Flight Experience by traveling in the back seat of the airplane and it will not count against your five allocated flights.

Question: What if I'm afraid of flying?

Answer: Cadets not required to participate in the Orientation Flight Program but hey are encouraged to at least give it a try. If you have never experienced the thrill of flying the orientation flight program is a great way to see what it's like to fly an airplane. Our pilots are available to help anyone that is uncertain about flying become comfortable with the experience. Let us know and we can help.

Question: What if I'm over 18?

Answer: There are many exciting flight opportunities available to cadets that are over 18. You can become a Civil Air Patrol Mission Scanner or Observer and are eligible for many other flight opportunities. Contact your Squadron Commander for more information about the fantastic opportunities that are available.  

Question: How do I find more information?

Answer: If you are a cadet ask your squadron about O-rides and if you are a pilot wanting to learn about becoming a CAP glider pilot see the contact details on the CAWG Gliding tab.


Gliding FAQ's

How can a sailplane get airborne?

Mainly by aero towing. Aero towing is accomplished by flying in formation with a power plane (tug) while being pulled on a 200 foot rope. The other launching methods include kiting up on a long cable drawn by a winch or car (ground launch). Sometimes, sailplanes also take off with an on-board auxiliary engine (motor launch). Over flat ground, a launch to 2,000' usually suffices to contact lift. Even a heavy modern sailplane can get to flight speed by being hand pushed or towed down a windy slope, but it amounts to a 1930s nostalgia exercise at the few places it is still done.

How is a sailplane steered?

With the same aerodynamic controls as light airplanes. Stick (for the right hand) and rudder (for the feet) are the primary flight controls for speed and direction adjustments. The analog to the throttle for altitude control is the spoiler handle (for the left hand), although it only increases rate of descent and cannot enable a climb at will. A release knob allows terminating a tow at any time. More exotic sailplanes have retractable landing gear, flaps, water ballast tanks, and even auxiliary engines.

What keeps a glider up?

"Lift", rising air. It is an exercise in relativity and energy management: a sailplane typically sinks 200 feet per minute (about 2 mph) through the air that surrounds it. If that air is moving upwards faster than 2 mph, the glider rises relative to the ground. In the early 1920s, glider pioneers were doubtful that consistent large upward currents of 2 mph could reliably develop in the atmosphere and be exploited by pilots. Perhaps soaring was only for the birds, slow and maneuverable as they were. Once they tried, they soon found out that useful lift is quite common and it is a rare day that a glider cannot do at least a little soaring.

What makes lift?

Sun and wind. Given that winds ultimately derive their energy from sunlight, soaring is a solar-powered sport. In order of discovery, the classic forms of Lift are: Ridge: wind deflected upwards by a slope. Thermal: warmed air rising from a hot spot on the ground. Wave: wind compressing and rebounding after passing a slope. Individual thermal convection cells, "thermals", are ubiquitous on most summer days and make the sport possible all over the world with no need for wind or hills. Combinations of lift mechanisms, such as thermal-induced waves, air mass convergences, morning slope winds, wind shadow thermals, or vortex streets enrich and extend the range of opportunities.

Is there a season for soaring?

Yes, mainly summer. Thermals are the most common source of lift, and weather patterns and sun angles favor them in the Summer. Some pilots like to soar in the Northern Hemisphere in June and the Southern Hemisphere in December if they can afford the travel. On the other hand, waves and ridge lift are more commonly generated by winter weather patterns, so pilots in hilly areas can enjoy exciting soaring year-'round. 


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