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November 25, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
A 21-year-old flight instructor says his successful aviation path is attributable to the mentoring and training he received through the Civil Air Patrol.
“I thought I would join and see what it was all about,” said Stephen Bloemsma. “I had completed some Young Eagles flights when I was 12 or 13 that initially sparked my interest in aviation. Then after joining CAP and completing my cadet orientation flights, I knew aviation was the career field I wanted to pursue.”
CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has 61,000 members nationwide and operates a fleet of 550 aircraft that it uses for inland search-and-rescue missions. More than 26,000 young people participate in CAP cadet programs that introduce aviation through a 16-step program that includes aerospace education, leadership training, physical fitness, and moral leadership.
As a CAP cadet, Bloemsma learned to fly airplanes and gliders and soloed at age 16. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and now flight instructs at Western North Carolina Aviation and as a mission pilot, cadet orientation pilot, and instructor at the Asheville Composite Squadron’s annual flight academy. “Going through the squadron’s first flight academy as a cadet and then being able to come back a few years later and teach it was quite the rewarding experience,” he said.
Bloemsma's career plans include flying for the airlines or a corporation once he has accumulated enough flight hours.
“CAP gave me an opportunity to fly at a young age and sparked that interest in aviation that led me to continue on in my training, and I am very grateful for that,” Bloemsma said.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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