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Local Civil Air Patrol Cadets Take to the Skies to Experience Aviation

December 1, 2020

LEESBURG, Va. (Dec 01, 2020) – Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Civil Air Patrol cadets from the Virginia Wing's Leesburg Composite Squadron (VA-117) got to experience the thrill of aviation first-hand as they piloted the CAP’s sophisticated Cessna 182.

Observing proper mask and sanitation protocols at all times, the flights were all conducted under the supervision of highly qualified and experienced CAP senior member pilots.

“It was amazing!” said Cadet Mary Homa, age 13, of Leesburg. “I’ve always wanted to fly and - for the first time ever - I got to handle the controls and see what being a pilot is really like!”

The hour-long flights in single-engine Cessna aircraft introduced the cadets to the science that makes flight possible. They learned about navigation, aircraft instruments, flight maneuvers, and more.

The cadets’ flight began by helping pre-flight their aircraft. Working with their pilot, they taxied their aircraft to Leesburg Executive Airport’s runway 17, gave it full throttle and took off, climbing to 3,500 feet. While aloft, it was the cadets who were handling the controls, during the non-critical stages of the flight.

“You really have to pay attention when you’re at the controls,” explained Cadet Tristan Sala, 16, “but once you get comfortable with them, it’s awesome!”

Once they reached their assigned altitude, the cadets tried their hands at maneuvering the plane and overflying the nearby Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport – home of the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing near Martinsburg, W. Va – to see the C-17 transport aircraft stationed there.

“I’ve been flying for years, and it’s always exciting just to see the look in their eyes,” said one of the pilots, CAP Captain Christopher Freeze of Herndon. Captain Freeze and two other pilots volunteered their time, while the Civil Air Patrol provided the aircraft and fuel, at no cost to the cadets or the pilots.

CAP’s Cadet Program is open to youth aged 12 through 18. Additionally, there are volunteer opportunities for adults, pilots and non-pilots alike. For more information, contact Major David Thornton via email at, or visit

For More Information:

Contact: Capt Christopher Freeze, CAP,  

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