Civil Air Patrol

Cadet is earning her Hot Air Balloon Pilot’s License

Cadet Nordman earns her wings

2018 Johnson Flight Academy at the Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon Illinois June 2018. Photo by Maj Greg Hoffeditz
Photo from left to right: MAJ Robert Bowden presents Cadet 2d Lt Taylor Nordman with her wings after graduating from the Johnson Flight Academy, Summer 2018


February 20, 2019
Civil Air Patrol cadet is flying high towards a hot air balloon pilot’s license before graduating high school.

By 2d Lt Michele Nordman


Cadet Second Lieutenant Taylor Nordman starts early each day, with only a hint of the morning sun above the horizon. The wind is calmest as the sun begins to rise for flying a hot air balloon. Within minutes the hard work begins, the gondola is out of the trailer and the envelope is secured. After inflating the balloon, the flight is just moments from taking off. As the balloon rises higher into the sky the silence is broken only by the sound of burners; quite a fascinating way to watch the sunrise.

Taylor’s hot air balloon journey began at the age of 15, with a Civil Air Patrol summer academy, the Johnson Flight Academy. The Johnson Flight Academy (JFA) in Mattoon, Illinois offers eight cadets each year the opportunity to learn, crew and fly a hot air balloon.

In 2017, Taylor’s first year at Johnson Flight Academy (JFA), featured the first all-female cadet crew. The 10 days were extremely long starting before 4 a.m. and ending late into the evening. However, the rewards were astounding; Taylor completed ground school training, crewed for other cadets, earned more than 8 hours of flight time and soloed her first year of flying. Taylor spent the next year crewing for local hot air balloon teams before returning back to JFA.

In the summer of 2018, Taylor enjoyed her second year at JFA. She refreshed her skills, crewed more hours and added additional Pilot in Command time to her flight log. After graduating from JFA a second time, Taylor’s love of hot air balloons was cemented into her future plans. In the next few months, Taylor passed her FAA written test with flying colors and is one step closer to earning her pilot’s license.

In December 2018, Taylor was selected into the Cadet Wings Program, a Civil Air Patrol program which funds the costs associated with obtaining a private pilot license. As the winter weather wains, Taylor plans to be back up in the air finishing her pilot’s license.

Cadet Taylor Nordman will graduate from high school this May with hopes of attending a Military Service Academy and continuing her love of aviation all with the help of the Civil Air Patrol.

Nordman’s squadron in Elizabethtown has their Open House on March 4 at 6:30pm.

The Aerospace Program provides many opportunities for adults and youth to experience everything from rocketry, quadcopters, astronomy to flying in CAP aircraft.

In addition to aerospace, Civil Air Patrol inspires youth to become the next generation of leaders in its Cadet Program. The program centers around its core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect for ages 12-18. They have the opportunity to develop a passion for flying, leadership, cybersecurity as well as many other careers that they are exposed to while serving their communities.

In Emergency Services, both cadet and adult members train for disaster relief, search and rescue, and humanitarian missions. They develop skills in radio communications, first aid, and train to help our community in a state of crisis.

There are seventeen squadrons that are participating in a Statewide Aerospace Day Open House from March 4-13. Please visit for more information.

Civil Air Patrol offers teens and adults with experiences that build skills while serving their community.

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 61,000 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 26,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information

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Civil Air Patrol launches hot air balloonsCivil Air Patrol launches hot air balloons

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