a joint program of

In 1996, This was the first step in SSA-CAP cooperation that brought the extensive sailplane equipment and expertise of 250 SSA Clubs and Schools to the 21,500 Cadet members of CAP. It took the form of intensive pre-solo flight training for younger Cadets (14-16) competitively selected by CAP, using motorless aircraft purpose-built for nature-powered recreation and easy development of critical piloting skills. Following the 1996 prototype in Colorado, typically 3 NFA-Gs have been held each year. Some are very regular and some, as at Mattoon, IL, even have a long tradition (30+ years) as State (“Wing”) events dating back to the previous CAP-SSA joint venture ca 1970.

Initial solo flight at a CAP academy is now possible with a waiver from CAP National Headquarters, typically reflecting flight experience such as at a previous academy, but it is not the rule or expected end goal. Instead, per CAP policy of 2000, the bulk of cadets seek “pre-solo qualification”, which means a dual flight purely observed without comment by an on board CFI-G, and this earns the cadets “CAP pre-solo pilot” Wings. Part of the plan is that those Cadets that seek an actual sole occupant solo flight are motivated to continue their glider training with their CAP units back home or an SSA “civilian” glider club or FBO.

Most of this present web page is historical reference on the early academies. Details on what academies are coming up is best found at the CAP website. These are National CAP "Cadet Special Activies" under the Cadet Programs area that require application through the Squadron-Wing chain of command. We at SSA encourage a year's SSA Youth membership as part of the package. Year round Orientation Rides, 5 for free, and regular cadet glider flight training are also available, and CAP has made a remarkable investment since 1998 in its own fleet of gliders, including approximately 40 L-23s, assigned nationally to where they will best be used to fly cadets. Many thanks to Maj. John Sharp of the CAP staff for such outstanding promotion over 10 years of the joint program from the CAP side. For information on CAP regulations and guidelines or to volunteer help as a CAP adult leader, the best starting point is his CAP Glider Program web page, followed by contacting local CAP glider programs. Current CAP-SSA volunteer contacts at the national level are:

Pete Kalisky, CAP. Cadet Programs staff

Ray Johnson, SSA. Chair of SSA's CAP committee and member of CAP's SSA committee

Skip Guimond, CAP. Chair of CAP's SSA committee and member of SSA's CAP committee

For general information about sport soaring, nearest gliderports, SSA, State promoters ("SSA Governors") who can help set up local CAP glider programs, or why sailplanes are ideal tools for initial youth flight training, browse:

 |  Soaring Society of America  |  SSA Youth Committee  | 
 |  Kolstad College Scholarship |  Bultman Flight Scholarship |  Cadet Flight Scholarship | 
 |  A Soaring Fact Sheet |  Brief History of Gliders |  What is Soaring all about? | 
 |  Sailplanes & Youth |  Glider Flight Training |  Site Directory |  Sailplane Directory | 
 |  USA Junior Soaring Team |  Kolstad Century Badges |  Collegiate Soaring Association | 

Historical reference Section, early CAP-SSA glider flight academies

Reports and images from NFA-G Colorado 1998

CAP 98-0
CAP 98-1
CAP 98-2
CAP 98-3

Here are summaries of the 1996 and 1997 Colorado events:

NGE '96 was attended by 16 CAP Cadets ages 14-17 hailing mostly from CO, but also MD, NC, and LA. Only 3 had any prior flight experience, only 1 had a drivers' license, yet 14 reached the solo stage and all achieved accurate flying technique and 1,000 ft. altitude gains in thermals. The encampment was staffed by 8 soaring instructors (3 with Gold badges and 2,000+ hrs). It featured one Red, one White, and one Blue Schweizer 2-33, soaring within sight of the Rocky Mountains.

NFA-G '97 was attended by 19 primary CAP Cadets and 4 advanced CAP Cadets (from previous encampment), including CO, WY, SC, MS, MI, and OR.  The four returning cadets were re-soloed in minimum time and allowed use of a Schweizer 1-34.  Three completed their Private-Glider ratings during the encampment (the fourth wasn't yet sixteen).  Of the Junior Cadets, 16 soloed during the intensive flight training and all completed the comprehensive ground school curriculm.

1997 Statistics:
23 cadets, 544 aerotows, 53 winch tows. 15 VIP flights.
23.2 aerotows/cadet, 2.1 winch tows/cadet on average.
9 days flown out of possible 10.
4 advanced cadets: 3 new Private Pilots (1 still under 16).
19 primary cadets: All completed activity (CAP Certificate & ribbon, "Basic Glider Pilot" certificate)
16 solos [18 within mo.: Severn (CSA), Lind (Bermuda High SS, SC)]
4 2-33s, 1 1-34, 1 G103 (used only with 2-3 primary cadets),
3 towplanes, 8 CFI-Gs
Goal achieved of conducting a "safe, enjoyable, initial flight activity".

The utility of the SSA-CAP agreement (164K PDF file)getacro.gif (898 bytes)really showed in this experiment as follows: Only 3 of the instructors were CAP members prior to the encampment and only one of the 2-33s and none of the launching equipment belonged to CAP. The encampment did not need to wait months for Rocky Mountain Region CAP to acquire gliders & towplanes (if available at all) or train instructors & towpilots (perhaps only minimally). All these items are readily available within the soaring community, which is happy to loan them in return for exposure to energetic potential members who can easily learn the sport: young ones.

From the SSA side of the operation, it should be noted that the CAP joint venture is the single greatest source of new young members we have and has turned things around: 47 new SSA Youth members in 1996, out of a total of 450 and 75+ anticipated during summer of 1998.  SSA youth numbers are back up to 1985 levels at near 500 total and 4% of SSA membership.

What follows is a complete brochure on the experience:


nge.gif (31287 bytes)

CAP Host: Rocky Mountain Region (RMR)

SSA Host: Colorado Soaring Association (CSA)

Dates: July 17-24, 1996
Place: Owl Canyon Gliderport, CO


This was the first National Glider Encampment to follow the Memo of Understanding signed between CAP and SSA in February 1996. The spirit of this agreement is that CAP will select and supervise promising young cadet members, while SSA will offer them ground and flight sailplane training and a full exposure to the aviation sport of soaring.

Learning to fly in gliders is accessible and focused on basic skills, making it a good first step towards any kind of flying activity. The sport and the respect for nature to be found in soaring, as well as its social character, offer an ideal context for exploring the aerospace world at a young age.


Having over a dozen youngsters come for flight training at one time represents major economies in running a glider operation. It is "the way to go" compared to weekend lessons which always fall behind schedule and drag a simple learn-to-fly course out for months. At a camp, one towplane can keep several trainers flying, students not flying can fill necessary ground-crew roles, instructors can better track student progress, ground-school can be integrated with flying. It is the best atmosphere for the student: a focused learning experience, no long weeks between flights to forget lessons, a chance to share work with peers and even to teach each other.


This is one of a few dozen facilities in the nation exclusively devoted to soaring. The gliderport offers an ideal training environment: 4 marked runways up to 5,000' long (NS, EW & NW-SE). Acres of landable prairie between runways. No power traffic. Far enough from the Front Range to be away from rotors and thunderstorms, yet favored by great Rocky Mountain soaring conditions. The Colorado Soaring Association (CSA) owns the gliderport, and is a volunteer-run club of 60 members, 4 gliders, 1 towplane and 1 winch, a huge hangar with lounge, library, kitchen & bunkroom, 15 privately-owned sailplanes, and many soaring heroes and traditions.


As part of this introduction to soaring, some 20 flights and 20 hrs of ground school were provided. The latter is not sufficient preparation for the FAA written Private Pilot exam (glider), but it is a good start. The goals are to support the flight activity, to prepare the students for a pre-solo examination on areas of aeronautical knowledge required by FAR 61.87, and to develop the students into well-rounded "Basic Glider Pilots" who must "have it in the head before they can have it in the hand".

Each day, 3 of those hours occurred in the classroom at the field, in between sessions on the flight line. The outline of topics is contained in the Knauff "Glider Basics" textbook, in the form of Training Phases I-III, and written Tests 1-6. Following this syllabus of instruction earns each student a "Basic Glider Pilot Certificate", which is the nominal goal of the encampment. Experience shows that nearly every student will be able to meet this mark of experience, knowledge, & proficiency. Those who desire to fly solo, and who are disposed towards the independent judgement this requires, may go on to Phase IV and Test 7.

For training topics more remote from basic stick- and-rudder handling, a few extra hours of lecture and workshop were provided, usually in the evening or during poor weather. These included:

GLIDER RIGGING. Assembly, Disassembly (done day 0 and day 8!). Pre-Flight Inspection.

GROUND OPERATIONS. Field rules. Ground- handling. Checklists. Tow signals.

GLIDER AERODYNAMICS. Glide Ratio & Range. Performance Speeds. Operating Limits.

STALLS AND SPINS. Recognition. Recovery. Weight & Balance. Accident Scenarios.

RULES OF THE AIR. FAR part 91. Airspace. Communications. Collision Avoidance.

SOARING WEATHER. Lift Mechanisms. Soaring Techniques. Hazards.


Soaring is a lifetime sport, full of pleasures and challenges. At every opportunity, our instructors tried to teach the students the skills of flying longer, higher, and further without engine power. All students were required to join SSA: a year of SOARING magazine should answer most questions.

FILMS were available. For example:

PURE FLIGHT, RUNNING ON EMPTY, shorts which have run on TV. ZULU ROMEO GOOD START, CHAMPIONS OF THE WAVE, longer documentaries of World Championships Competition. GLIDING TIL NOW, a history of soaring from the 1800s to the 1940s. EJGC 1995 LESZNO, story of the 3rd European Junior Gliding Championships with all contestants aged 18-25.


CAP member Ruth Stevens showed another way to enjoy gliders: aerobatics in her Polish SZD-59. CSU Professor Bill Cotton had his PIK-20E self- launching sailplane and G109 motorglider. CSA CFI Mike Nelson was on hand to demo RC models.


On the weekend, PIK-20s and LS-4s came out of trailers, and students took turns flying and crewing in a normal club operation. This showed them what soaring life would be like after the encampment. With better weather, they might have seen CSA members finish 100-mile races. Or retrieves!


The affordable way to the first thermal, an old launch method regaining popularity. The NGE got each student "up on the wire" several times.


As time and weather allowed, a few students got a hop in the club's 35:1 glide-ratio Grob 103, to have something to compare to the 20:1 2-33 trainer.

1996 STAFF:


Colorado Soaring Association
(source of most volunteers & facilities)

Rocky Mountain CAP Region

Black Forest Soaring Society

Denver Soaring Council

Knauff & Grove Soaring Supplies

CO, WY, UT CAP Wings

Colorado State University

EAA Young Eagles Program

SSA 'CADET' Scholarship Program

Other Flight Scholarship sponsors are eagerly sought. The cost of one week of flight & ground training, room & board runs near $700 even with an all-volunteer staff. There are cadets that really burn to fly and soar that we may have to turn away.

Civil Air Patrol and the Soaring Society of America
are 501(C)3 Educational Organizations to which donations are tax-deductible.

John H. Campbell
SSA Youth Chairman

Last revised: 05-Mar-06