Stephen Bloesmsma’s 16th birthday was one he will never forget. While most teens his age are in hot pursuit of a driver’s license as a top priority that day, Bloesmsma had higher aspiration — his first solo flight.
“I remember after my first takeoff thinking to myself, ‘Well, I’m committed to landing the airplane now. There is no turning back at this point,’” he recalled. “I also remember my confidence growing after every landing, and having a big smile on my face during the last one.”
Now, at just 21, Bloesmsma, is one of the nation’s youngest commercially licensed pilots. He credits Civil Air Patrol with skyrocketing his aviation career’s rapid success.
“I thought I would join and see what it was all about,” he said of CAP. “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.”
Through the program, he learned how to fly airplanes and a whole lot more.
He gained leadership skills through participation in four cadet encampments — two as a basic participant and two as a flight sergeant and squadron commander. He participated in multiple emergency missions, too, and added Glider Academy and Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course to his resume, which also includes a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Officially licensed as a commercial pilot in 2012, Bloesmsma plans to fly for an airline or possibly a corporation. In the meantime, he is putting his skills to good use as a flight instructor at Western North Carolina Aviation and as a mission pilot, cadet orientation pilot and instructor at the Asheville Composite Squadron’s annual flight academy.
Mentors especially dear to his heart are Civil Air Patrol Lt. Cols. Rich Augur and Ray Davis.
Augur, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and a major in the U.S. Air Force, was deputy commander of CAP cadets when Bloesmsma was a cadet. Davis was Bloesmsma’s primary flight instructor for his private pilot’s certificate on his 16th birthday.
“He (Augur) really helped me develop leadership skills and was one of the two instructors who helped in my training for my private pilot’s certificate,” he said. “And, as I have progressed in my aviation career, Lt. Col. Augur as a Delta Airlines captain has helped by advising me in the steps and decisions I should make in order to fly for the airlines one day.”
Of Davis, Bloesmsma said, “He is very focused and committed to learning and applying that knowledge toward successful completion of his goals.” These traits, he added, influenced his career success.
“CAP gave me an opportunity to fly at a young age,” he said, “and sparked that interest in aviation that led me to continue on in my training, and I am very grateful for that.”
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90% 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. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 26,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs.
For more information: GoCivilAirPatrol.com