PORT ANGELES — Kade Kirsch, a 16-year-old Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadet chief master sergeant, earned a pair of major personal milestones recently, highlighted by a solo flight in a Cessna 172 out of Rite Brothers Aviation in Port Angeles.
The flight was Aug. 10.
The solo flight is a major milestone in a student pilot’s training, noted Cmdr. Madeline Patterson of Dungeness Flight, the local unit of Civil Air Patrol based in Port Angeles.
A pilot traditionally completes a lesson with his or her instructor, receives their solo endorsement, then takes off from the airport and completes three full-stop landings before the flight instructor cuts their shirttails — a long standing tradition in aviation signifying that a student doesn’t need the instructor’s help to fly safely anymore.
Kirsch started his flight training in March 2020 before the pandemic struck.
His powered solo came just two weeks after he soloed in a glider at the CAP Desert Eagle Flight Academy in Ephrata. At Desert Eagle, cadets could apply to fly either powered aircraft or gliders. The training consists of formal ground school lessons, simulator time and dual flight lessons with instructors, Patterson said.
“These two accomplishments from Cadet Kirsch exemplify his dedication to aviation and his perseverance in achieving his pilot’s license,” Patterson said.
Three other local cadets also marked milestones in their aviation careers: their first orientation flight with Civil Air Patrol. Cadet Basics Reilly Sue of Sequim, Genna Nickel of Joyce and Joseph Maggard of Port Angeles completed the first of five orientation flights that Civil Air Patrol provides in powered aircraft.
Capt. John Weidman of Peninsula Composite Squadron in Bremerton flew the orientation flights out of Sequim Valley Airport on Aug. 8.
The first orientation flight — also known as an “O-flight” — introduces cadets to aircraft systems, airport operations and the aircraft pre-flight. The cadet gets a chance to fly the aircraft during cruise and learn about how the flight controls relate to the control surfaces. The series of five “O-flights” progresses to provide cadets a strong foundation in the general aviation world with the hopes that they will be a recipient of a Cadet Wings Scholarship, Patterson said.
The Cadet Wings program provides full funding for Civil Air Patrol cadets to receive their private pilot’s licenses. Patterson said it is a highly competitive program that has helped more than 120 cadets earn their wings in the past two years.
Kirsch is not a Wings recipient yet but did get a full scholarship through Civil Air Patrol to attend the Desert Eagle Flight Academy receive his glider training there, Patterson said.
Founded in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP has three missions: cadet programs, emergency services and aerospace education.
Learn more about CAP at wa091.cap.gov.