Civil Air Patrol cadet flight takes off in Stuttgart

This fall, the Stuttgart military community will have its own Civil Air Patrol cadet flight.

CAP is a congressionally chartered, non-profit volunteer organization and the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The cadet program teaches teens ages 12-18 about aerospace, emergency services, physical fitness, leadership skills and management.

The Stuttgart flight will fall under the Ramstein Air Base cadet squadron.

“It’s like the Boy Scouts with an aviation twist to it,” said Col. Joseph Mancy, an Air Force pilot working for U.S. Africa Command and a volunteer who is helping to stand up the local CAP flight.

Stuttgart CAP meetings are set for every Monday from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Religious Education Center on Patch Barracks. The first meeting will be Sept. 13.

Similar to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, CAP is designed to prepare students for possible careers with any branch of the U.S. military. Cadets will be trained in land navigation, marches and drills, along with physical fitness.  

In the U.S., these skills help CAP units as they assist in real search and rescue missions. However, since the Stuttgart flight is overseas, cadets here will only be able to participate in emergency training scenarios on post. They will learn about host nation emergency management from German emergency management personnel.

“Every meeting is something different,” said Sgt. Major Luis Bispo, an AFRICOM Soldier and CAP officer who helped bring CAP to U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart. For example, during one meeting, cadets may learn about how to make ethical decisions from garrison chaplains. During another, they may learn how to become positive role models from CAP officers, NCOs or civilians.

“[Cadets] will learn management skills,” Bispo said. “They’ll learn how to manage their studies. It’s basically about self discipline … and they’ll learn how to take charge.”

They’ll even learn to fly an airplane with Rick Cacini, a private “orientation” pilot for CAP and contractor working for U.S. Africa Command, if logistics allow.

According to Cacini, each cadet will fly seven one-hour flights each year, in the cockpit with the pilot, out of Ramstein AFB.

“You pay to go to school to learn the basics of flying,” Bispo said. “In CAP, you learn for free.”

Bispo’s son, 18-year-old Lucas, has been a CAP cadet for five years and considers learning to fly “one of the best experiences you could have.”

“When you’re up in the sky, it’s quieter,” said Lucas Bispo, cadet first sergeant for the Stuttgart flight. “You also get to look at things from a different perspective.”

Stuttgart cadets may also take a C-130 ride during the annual CAP encampment, which includes physical training and a visit to military facilities.

CAP cadets and officers have ranks and uniforms similar to those used by the U.S. Air Force. If a cadet reaches the rank of cadet second lieutenant, after completing the “enlisted phase” of the program, he or she receives the Mitchell Award — “a good ticket to any of the three services’ military academies,” Luis Bispo said.

Many CAP cadets go on to pursue careers in aviation, space or the military, according to the CAP website,

For Lucas Bispo, who is considering a military career, the CAP program is an ideal introduction to military service because it promotes teamwork. “Each person has a unique job they have to do and [they] rely on each other,” he said.

To join or volunteer, call Sgt. Maj. Bispo at 421-4447/civ. 0711-729-4447. All CAP volunteers must be U.S. citizens with SOFA status.