Cadet Programs


About the Cadet Program

Do you want to fly? Do you want to honor and serve America? Then rise to the challenge of cadet membership in the
U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.You’ll find cadet life exciting if you enjoy:
• Flying                                            
• Leadership Training
• Obstacle Courses                      
• Model Rocketry
• Team building                                                            
• Hiking & Camping
• Earning Rank & Awards
• Search & Rescue
• Exploring Aviation Careers
• Making Friends                                                                                                                                                       
You must be at least 12 but not yet 19 to join as a cadet. CAP also offers opportunities for adults. On average, cadets
meet one night a week for 2 hours and enjoy special events on weekends. In summer, you can attend a week-long camp. Annual dues and uniform expenses will total about $100. Other fees may be required for weekend and summer events. As a cadet, you are never obligated to join the military, but 10% of all Air Force Academy cadets got their start in CAP. 

Benefits of Cadet Life:
• Develop leadership skills
• Test-fly potential careers
• Solidify your moral values
• Succeed in school

The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program is tasked with producing dynamic young Americans and Aerospace Leaders. We offer young men and women of ages 12-18 (may remain a cadet until 21st birthday) the challenge of a lifetime, through a program based on leadership training, flight training, search and rescue, and aerospace education. Cadets advance through the CAP Cadet Program by completing written tests and practical exams in leadership, physical fitness, and aerospace education, in addition to the ethical foundation set for them in our Moral Leadership program. As cadets advance in grade and rank they earn greater responsibility, and the rewards are commensurate with this advancement. All cadets begin as a Cadet Basic, and can promote as high as Cadet Colonel, given enough time and commitment on their part.
Leadership training in CAP is ongoing, in the form of Drill and Ceremonies, Teaching Techniques and Conflict Management, to name a few examples. What sets CAP's Leadership training apart from others, is that our cadets learn leadership through practical application and specially designed schools, which mirror Air Force Leadership Schools in nearly every way. Some of the school increments are Basic Cadet School, Cadet Non-Commissioned Officer School, and Cadet Officer Basic Course.

CAP cadets are also eligible for many scholarships that range from $500.00 to $5,000.00, or more. Many cadets find that membership in CAP made the difference in their successful nomination to the United States Air Force Academy, or other service academy. 

Among other benefits, CAP cadets are also eligible for national and international activities, such as International Air Cadet Exchange, Hawk Mountain Ranger School and National Ground Search and Rescue School. Along with all of these great opportunities, CAP Cadets who decide to enlist in the Air Force, and who have received the General Billy Mitchell Award, receive advanced pay grade (E-3) after Air Force Basic Training.

Without a doubt the most popular program in CAP for the cadets is the Flight Training Program offered at the squadron and national levels. CAP cadets are eligible for both powered and glider orientation flights, plus opportunities for ground school and flight training scholarships. CAP cadets can solo and even become private pilots in this manner. National special activities specifically for flight training include our National Flight Academy Glider/Powered, Jacksonville Airline Academy, Aviation Challenge, and Space Camp.

The possibilities are endless, come and see why the CAP Cadet Program is truly "America's best-kept secret!"

This link  provides a list of national special activities that span a wide range of interests, dates, cost, and prerequisites -
*NOTE:Cadets must attend a Basic Encampment before they will be eligible to attend national encampments and special activities.  Basic Encampments are offered throughout the United States, and a cadet may attend any of them.


"The Cadet Program has changed my life for the better. Within Civil Air Patrol I have found confidence, passion and a strive to do better in everything I do. When I first joined Civil Air Patrol I was quiet, did not like to get up in front of people, and did not want to be in charge. I also had no major interest in science, engineering, technology, or aerospace. I am now able to take charge of a group and lead them to complete a given task.  I am comfortable giving lessons and am pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering.” -- 2012 IACE Cadet Applicant

Today's cadets are tomorrow's aerospace leaders. Through its Cadet Program, Civil Air Patrol transforms youth aged 12 to 20 into responsible citizens.

CAP is the volunteer, non-profit auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Its three missions are to develop its cadets, educate Americans on the importance of aviation and space, and perform live-saving humanitarian missions.




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to the CAP Cadet Program

Strategic Overview of the Cadet Program
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Volunteer Opportunities

Parents are welcome to participate in CAP. No prior military service or special skills are required. Whether you want to help chaperone cadets once in a while or become a full-fledged senior member active in CAP missions, we would love to have you get involved in CAP.

Parents Committee - help arrange carpools, plan social events, raise funds, and connect the squadron to your hometown by serving on an informal parents' committee
- To volunteer, talk with your son's or daughter's squadron commander.

Cadet Sponsor Member -  occasionally support cadets as a chaperone or driver
- To volunteer,talk with the squadron commander, who will give you a membership application, help you get fingerprinted, and complete an orientation course. Annual dues vary by state.

Senior Member - take a leadership role in the Cadet Program, and/or participate in CAP's aerospace education and emergency services missions
- To volunteer, talk with the squadron commander, who will give you a membership application, help you get fingerprinted and complete an orientation course. Annual dues vary by state. 

Addressing Concerns

Any time you have a question or concern about CAP, please feel free to contact your son's or daughter's squadron commander. If local leaders are unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, the wing headquarters, which oversees all the squadrons in your state, will be glad to help. Use the unit locator to find contact information (click your state, and then click the link for the "001 Wing Headquarters" unit).

Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  How much does it cost to join CAP?
A:  Annual membership dues vary by state.

Q:  What are the age requirements for joining CAP?
A:  Youth aged 12-18 may join CAP as cadets and remain cadets until age 21. In special school program squadrons, sixth graders may join, even if they are under age 12. Of course, adults of any age are welcome to join CAP, too.

Q:  Are cadets obligated to join the military?
A:  No, but many do. Cadets who earn the Billy Mitchell Award may enter the Air Force at an advanced grade (E-3) if they choose to enlist. The service academies and ROTC also look favorably on CAP experience. Approximately 10% of the USAF Academy cadet corps got their start in CAP.

Q:  What level of commitment is expected from cadets?
A:   CAP expects cadets to participate actively, but of course CAP recognizes that cadets have school, family, and other obligations that take priority. Most squadrons meet weekly for about 2 1/2 hours, and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer. If your son or daughter is unable to attend a CAP activity, please have them let their commander know in advance. Like any extra-curricular activity, cadets will get out of CAP only what they put into it.

Adult Supervision

Q:  Who leads and supervises the cadets?
A:  CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP senior members) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI. Also, as part of their leadership training, advanced cadets lead and mentor new cadets under the guidance of senior members. For more information, see our cadet protection policy.


Q:  Do cadets need to maintain a certain grade point average to participate in CAP?
A:  Of course, school comes first. CAP expects cadets to maintain "satisfactory performance" at school, as defined by the cadet's parents. Because CAP emphasizes self-discipline, it's not uncommon for parents to see their son's or daughter's grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.


Q:  Why do cadets wear uniforms?
A:  CAP uses uniforms to promote teamwork and develop self-discipline. The uniform motivates cadets to set high standards for themselves and to live their core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and respect. Additionally, cadets practice military customs and courtesies as part of their leadership training.

Q:  What uniforms do cadets wear?
A:  The basic cadet uniform is the short-sleeve Air Force style blue uniform. Most cadets also choose to wear the optional BDU (camouflage) uniform.

Q:  How do cadets obtain uniforms?
A: Beginning 1 June 2015, parents and/or squadrons, you will provide BDUs to new cadets as soon as possible after joining, and CAP will provide a $100 voucher towards purchasing the blues uniform after the cadet earns the Curry. See your local squadron commander for details. BDUs and other uniform items may be available through your squadron & apos;s supply, and may be purchased through the clothing sales store on military installations.

Q:  How do cadets obtain uniform insignia?
A:  Vanguard is CAP's official supplier of uniform insignia. Here is a list of the insignia needed for the "blues" and "BDU" uniforms:


Air Force "Blues" Uniform Camouflage "BDU" Uniform
Flight cap device - CAP0748A "Civil Air Patrol" cloth tape - CAP0599K
3-Line nameplate - CAP0599M Cloth nametape (last name) - CAP0599HA

Q:  Where do the patches, insignia, etc. go on the uniform?
A:   See the uniform mini-posters (PDF) included in your son's or daughter's member kit.


Q:  What's involved with cadet orientation flights?
A:  Through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders, cadets experience flight first-hand. CAP's pilots are licensed by the FAA, follow a syllabus for each flight, and ensure the flight is conducted safely. Orientation flights are free to cadets. See the squadron commander for information about when the next opportunity to fly is scheduled.

Cadet Promotions

Q:  How do cadets advance and earn promotions?
A:  Cadets advance at their own pace through self-study and group study (see cadet superchart). To progress, cadets must (1) participate actively; (2) pass a written leadership test; (3) pass a written aerospace test; (4) pass a physical fitness test; (5) participate in character development forums; and most of all (6) demonstrate they have the maturity to accept increased responsibility. (In some stages of the Cadet Program, these requirements differ slightly.)


Q: Does CAP have activities outside the squadron meetings?
A: Yes.  Visit our Activities page for information about Encampment, Leadership Schools, National Special Activities, and more.


Q:  Does CAP offer any scholarships?
A:  Yes. See our scholarships page for details.

Additional Questions & Concerns

Q:  I have more questions about CAP. Where can I find answers?
A:  CAP's on-line Knowledge Base is a great source for more information about CAP programs. Of course, your son's or daughter's squadron commander will also be glad to answer your questions.


National Cadet Special Activities

Category Name Location State Min. Age Cost
26-31 Dec 2016 Operations Training
Lonestar Emergency Services Academy South
Brownsville TX 14 $150.00
23-24 Feb 2017 Leadership
National Character & Leadership Symposium
US Air Force Academy CO 18 $50.00
25 Feb -
04 Mar 2017
Civic Leadership Academy
Washington DC 16 $450.00
01 Jun -
31 Aug 2017
Air Force
AF Space Command Familiarization Course
Peterson AFB CO 15 $450.00
01 Jun -
31 Aug 2017
Operations Training
Hawk Mountain Search And Rescue School
Kempton PA N/A Varies
01 Jun -
31 Aug 2017
NFA-TX Wing Glider Flight Academy
Decatur TX 14 $800.00
01 Jun -
31 Aug 2017
NFA-Great Lakes Region Glider Flight Academy
Mattoon IL 14 $800.00
02-10 Jun 2017 Flight
NFA-TX Wing Shirley Martin Powered Flight Academy
Nacogdoches TX 16 $800.00
03-10 Jun 2017 Air Force
AF Space Command Familiarization Course
Patrick AFB FL 15 $475.00
09-19 Jun 2017 Flight
NFA-Great Lakes Region Powered Flight Academy
Oshkosh WI 16 $800.00
09-17 Jun 2017 Air Force
Cyber Defense Training Academy - Main Campus
San Antonio TX 14 $50.00
09-24 Jun 2017 Flight
NFA- IL Wing Lt Col Raymond Johnson Flight Academy
Mattoon IL N/A Varies
10-17 Jun 2017 Air Force
AF Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training
Laughlin AFB TX 15 $450.00
11-17 Jun 2017 Aviation
Aircraft Maintenance & Manufacturing Academy
Independence KS 15 $350.00
14-25 Jun 2017 Air Force
AF Pararescue & Survival Orientation Course-Advanc
Davis-Monthan AFB AZ 16 $450.00
15-29 Jun 2017 Flight
NFA-North Central Region Powered Flight Academy
Fremont NE 16 $800.00
16-25 Jun 2017 Flight
NFA-Southwest Region Powered Flight Academy
Shawnee OK 16 $800.00
17-24 Jun 2017 Aviation
Model Aircraft & Remote Control Flight Academy
Ft. Leonard Wood MO 12 $375.00
18-24 Jun 2017 Technology
Engineering Tehcnologies Academy
Middle Tennessee State University TN 15 $375.00
23 Jun -
01 Jul 2017
Air Force
Cyber Defense Training Academy - Maryland Campus
TBA MD 14 $50.00
24 Jun -
02 Jul 2017
NFA-Northeast Region Powered Flight Academy
Bangor, Old Town ME 16 $800.00
24 Jun -
02 Jul 2017
NFA-Northeast Region Glider Flight Academy
Fredericksburg PA 14 $800.00
25 Jun -
04 Jul 2017
Model Aircraft & Remote Control Flight Academy
Oshkosh WI N/A $375.00
30 Jun -
03 Jul 2017
National Cadet Competition
Wright State Univertisy, Dayton OH N/A Varies
01-08 Jul 2017 Aviation
Model Aircraft & Remote Control Flight Academy
March ARB, CA CA 12 $375.00
01-09 Jul 2017 Flight
NFA-MER Col Roland Butler Powered Flight Academy
Blackstone VA 16 $800.00
08-22 Jul 2017 Operations Training
National Emergency Services Academy
Camp Atterbury IN 13 Varies
08-15 Jul 2017 Flight
NFA-Southeast Region Glider Flight Academy
Tullahoma TN 14 $800.00
09-16 Jul 2017 Operations Training
Lonestar Emergency Services Academy
Nacogdoches TX N/A Varies
10-22 Jul 2017 Leadership
Cadet Officer School
Maxwell AFB AL 16 $500.00
10 Jul -
04 Aug 2017
International Air Cadet Exchange
World Wide DC 17 $1,170.00
12-20 Jul 2017 Air Force
AF Pararescue & Survival Orientation Course
Kirtland AFB NM 15 $450.00
14-22 Jul 2017 Flight
NFA-Northcentral Region Joint Flight Academy
Mankato MN N/A $800.00
17-31 Jul 2017 Leadership
National Blue Beret
Oshkosh WI 16 $375.00
21-29 Jul 2017 Air Force
AF Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training
Columbus AFB MS 15 $450.00
22-28 Jul 2017 Air Force
AF Civil Engineering Academy
Tyndall AFB FL 15 $300.00
22-31 Jul 2017 Technology
Engineering Technologies Academy (Robotics)
Camp Pendleton CA N/A $450.00
23 Jul -
05 Aug 2017
Cadet Aviation Ground School
McGhee-Tyson ANGB TN 15 $550.00
29 Jul -
06 Aug 2017
NFA-Northeast Region Glider Flight Academy
Springfield VT 14 $800.00
04-12 Aug 2017 Air Force
Cyber Defense Training Academy - New Mexico Campus
Kirtland AFB NM 14 $50.00
12-20 Aug 2017 Flight
NFA-Northeast Region Glider Flight Academy
Springfield VT 14 $800.00