Thank you for supporting your son's or daughter's interest in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program.   CAP is a volunteer, non-profit organization that also serves as the civilian auxiliary to the U.S. Air Force. Our three missions are to develop youth through a cadet program, educate Americans on the importance of aviation and space, and perform live-saving humanitarian missions.

The program accepts new cadets who are at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old. It is a year-round program with weekly meetings at a local CAP squadron and additional activities on weekends or during the summer. CAP is not a military or boarding school, but a youth development program that incorporates aviation and military customs and courtesies.Through their experiences as CAP cadets, young people develop into responsible citizens and become tomorrow's aerospace leaders. The leadership skills, self-confidence, and discipline cadets gain through CAP prepares them to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves in life. 

To fulfill its goal of developing young people into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders, the Cadet Program is developed around five program elements: Leadership, Character Development, Aerospace Education, Physical Fitness, and Activities. As cadets participate in these five elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way.

The Civil Air Patrol's cadet program is a traditional military cadet program. CAP cadets wear modified versions of the Air Force uniforms, hold rank and grade, and practice military customs and courtesies. They are also required to maintain physical fitness standards and are tested on their fitness and their knowledge of leadership and aerospace subjects for each promotion. This program is not unlike that of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC); the reason for this is primarily that the Air Force JROTC program was 'cloned' from the CAP Cadet Program in the 1960s. It should be noted that there are several key distinctions between the two programs. 

The current Cadet Program was designed by Jack Sorenson, who held the position of Civil Air Patrol's Director of Aerospace Education in the 1960s. This program is composed of four phases (learning;leadership;command;executive), each of which is divided into several achievements. Achievements generally correspond to a grade promotion while phases are tied to a level of responsibility. The Cadet Program is executed at the local unit (squadron) level with weekly meetings and weekend activities, along with national and wing sponsored week-and multi-week long summer activities, of which encampments are an example. 

Cadets have a rank structure similar to the United States Air Force enlisted and officer ranks. A cadet starts as a Cadet Airman Basic and is promoted as he or she completes each achievement. To complete an achievement, a cadet must pass a physical fitness test as well as two written tests; one for leadership and one for aerospace education. The only exceptions to this rule are the promotion to C/Amm and C/SSgt (no aerospace test)




Parent Guide Todays Cadets Parents Guide Spanish

to the CAP Cadet Program

Strategic Overview of the Cadet Program
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View Cadet Grade/Rank and Ribbons/Awards.