Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does it cost to join CAP?
A: Annual membership dues can vary. But, usually fees are limited to about $33-55 per year.
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.
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. Eventually, the cadet will want to have both the Air Force-style blue uniform and the camouflage utility uniform (ABU or BDU).
Q: How do cadets obtain uniforms?
A: New cadets, upon completion of Achievement 1 and becoming a Cadet Airman, qualify for the Curry Blues Voucher which covers some of the costs of the Air Force-style blue uniform. It is therefore recommended that you obtain ABUs or BDUs first, and then use the Curry Blues Voucher to obtain your "blues."
Uniform parts can be purchased through a variety of sources. The official CAP source for insignia and uniforms is Vanguard. Uniform garments can also be obtained on Air Force base Exchange or base thrift stores.
Speak to the squadron leaders about local options and to check if the squadron "supply closet" has options for you.
Q: How do cadets obtain uniform insignia?
A: Vanguard is CAP’s official supplier of uniform insignia.
Q: Where do the patches, insignia, etc. go on the uniform?
A: See pages 7-9 in the New Cadet Guide to learn how to prepare your uniform.
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.
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. Civil Air Patrol offers many cadet activities much like electives at school, which are mostly scheduled on Saturdays and during normal school vacations and include activities such as Encampments, Leadership Schools, and National Special Activities. Please visit the National website Activities page for more information on the many opportunities available to Cadets.
Q: Does CAP offer any scholarships?
A: Yes, there are academic and flight scholarships available. Please visit the CadetInvest page for more information.
Cadet Program Staff:
Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization, but takes our cadet program very seriously. CAP offers specialized training for adults who train youth in leadership, aerospace education, physical fitness, character development, and special activities.
All adult members who work with cadets are required to undergo an FBI background check and are fingerprinted.
We encourage cadets to contact their ‘chain of command’ with any questions they may have. However, we realize that there are times when you need information right away, and parents of cadets are always free to contact the cadet program staff at any time.
To contact the cadet program staff, please use our contact us page.
“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.” — IACE Cadet Applicant