New Glider Camp Launched in West Virginia

Petersburg, West Virginia. Mount Airy Composite Squadron, Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), C/1stLt Raegan Buzzard took advantage of a new glider minicamp offered by a little-known private asset located within the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. The Eastern Soaring Center (ESC) is owned and operated by pilot Brian Collins. A retired United States Air Force (USAF) Colonel, Brian Collins learned to fly and instruct in glider piloting at the USAF Academy.  He is a Certified Flight Instructor in Gliders (CFI-G), an SSA Instructor (Soaring Society of America) and a Glider Check pilot Examiner with CAP Maryland Wing.The facility offers one of the most exciting form of glider launch; winch launch, and one of the geographically highest winch launch operations on the East Coast. For the region, it is the closest year-round, weekday (and weekend) operation serving Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, Northern Virginia and the surrounding mid-Atlantic region.

The ESC glider camp is a focused program designed to accommodate groups of two or three students at a time. ESC coordinates a timetable that is convenient to the students within ESC’s year-round schedule. Starting on a Thursday morning and ending Saturday (depending on weather delays), students can expect to get 15-20 flights with a pre-solo as the goal for the first camp. The cost is significantly discounted for CAP cadets. Lodging options in the area include on-airport camping, usually free to CAP members (showers and covered pavilions are available) and numerous hotel/motels are in the area. One approvedadult volunteer (or parent) is required for participants under the age of 18. This individual must accompany the participant and chaperon during non-flying periods; flight experience is not required but appreciated. For more information about ESC visit  This camp is a self-funded opportunity for anyone to secure additional glider flights above and beyond what the CAP glider program may offer.

Since the 1960s, the CAP Glider Program has been designed primarily for cadet participation. Recently, General Mark E. Smith, CAP National Commander, stated, “The Glider Program plays an important role in accomplishing Civil Air Patrol’s mission by offering a unique, effective and cost-efficient method of providing both orientation flying and pilot training. These attributes will only increase in importance as CAP is called upon to assist in resolving the national pilot shortage and increase youth interest in aviation careers.”

Gen. Smith’s comments were presented in the article, “Why Flying Gliders Makes Safer Pilots,” “Glider Soaring gets more people involved in flying and turns out pilots with outstanding stick-and-rudder skills” aswritten by Murry I. Rozansky who did a thorough job of describing the benefits of becoming a glider pilot. In short, “By learning from the past, we can get more pilots in the air, especially young people flying with outstanding stick-and-rudder skills. A glider can be soloed at age 14. The importance of starting kids flying at a younger age can’t be underestimated.” The ESC “glider camp” is not an approved CAP cadet activity. It is self-funded and provides a fantastic opportunity to get glider flights above and beyond what the Civil Air Patrol glider program may offer.

Mount Airy Composite Squadron is a composite of both senior and youth programs whose members are drawn from Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties. The Squadron meets Wednesday nights, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Izaak Walton League of America, Mt Airy Chapter, IWLA 6642, Mt Airy Maryland. Have a passion for aviation, dream of flight, are considering a career in the military? Want to serve your community and enhance your leadership skills? Join us. Youths, ages 12 to 18, parents and adults interested in the cadet or senior program are always welcome to drop in. For more information, contact Commander Laura Smith-Velazquez at or view our website at

Nearly 1,500 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with four finds. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,245 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information, contact the Maryland Wing at www.mdcap.orgor follow the wing on Facebook at

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.

Photo Bylines:

  • ESC-Landing: Glider landing at Grant County Airport (W99) in Petersburg, WV
  • 20170917_CAP_Oflight: Brian Collins and Mt Airy Composite Squadron’s Cadet Raegan Buzzard, Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol


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