- How old do I have to be to join?
Youth members must be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old.
Special school squadrons accept cadets under the age of 12 as long as they are in the sixth grade. You'll know it's a school squadron because the units have 800 series charter numbers. Additionally, the unit name usually includes the name of the school. Example: GLR-IN-806 John Adams High School Cadet Squadron.
- Do I have to be a US Citizen to join?
United States citizenship is a requirement for membership. However, if you are admitted to the United States as a permanent resident and have a permanent resident card (I-551), you are eligible to join.
If you are in the US but not a citizen or permanent resident, you may still be able to join, but will need to request a waiver of the citizenship requirement from your Civil Air Patrol squadron .
The citizenship waiver requires documentation (ex: a US Visa) that shows the reason you are in the country and how long you are permitted to stay in the US. If approved, the waiver will only be for the period of residence within the United States.
- Can I join if I have special needs?
Civil Air Patrol does not deny membership based on a medical condition or disabilities. CAP is committed to doing everything we reasonably can to help cadets succeed, but please keep in mind that participation in certain activities may be limited for safety depending on the cadet's condition, illness or disability. Read more about Cadets with Special Needs.
- Do cadets need to do well in school to participate in CAP?
School should always come first for the cadets. 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 child's grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.
- Do cadets have to join the military?
No, being a CAP Cadet does not obligate you to any military service but many cadets choose to do so.
Cadets who earn the Billy Mitchell Award may enter the Air Force at an advanced grade (E-3).
The service academies and ROTC also look favorably on CAP experience. Approximately 10% of the USAF Academy cadet corps got their start in CAP.
- How often do cadets meet?
To get the most out of the cadet program you should participate regularly. Like any other activity, you’ll get out of CAP only what you put into it.
Most squadrons meet weekly for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and offer special activities on the weekends and during the summer. You can find the meeting day and time of your local squadron by using the online unit locator.
- Who leads and supervises the cadets?
CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. CAP conducts an FBI criminal background check for all new adult volunteers who interact with cadets. The same adults are automatically rescreened every five years.
Additionally, the local unit conducts an in-person interview and there is regular Cadet Protection training for adults and age-appropriate training for cadets. Click here to learn more about Cadet Protection.
- Do cadets wear uniforms?
Cadets need one uniform to get started. Eventually, the cadet will want to have both the camouflage utility uniform (ABUs) and the Air Force-style service uniform, "blues."
Upon completing Achievement 1 and becoming a Cadet Airman, cadets qualify for the Curry Uniform Voucher, which covers some of the costs of the ABUs and Air Force-style blue uniforms.
Before you purchase any uniform items, please be sure to speak with your squadron leaders. They can help ensure you're getting the right uniform and may be able to provide information on how to obtain it locally.
- Does CAP teach cadets to fly?
CAP doesn't provide primary flight training, but cadets have the opportunity to fly in a CAP plane in an Orientation Flight. As you progress in the cadet program, you may have additional opportunities to attend summer flight encampments and compete for scholarships and other programs.
- Does CAP offer any scholarships?
There are academic and flight scholarships available. For more information about eligibility and application procedures, please visit the CadetInvest page.
- How do cadets earn rank in CAP?
Cadets are promoted in CAP through self-study and group study.
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.)
You can find more details about the requirements for each grade on the Ranks & Awards page.
- Can parents be in CAP?
Absolutely! Some opportunities to share in the CAP experience are:
Cadet Sponsor Member -- Just like any other youth organization, CAP relies on the family to support the program. Cadet parents, grandparents or legal guardians are eligible to join as Cadet Sponsors.
You will need to complete a membership application, FBI FD 258 fingerprint card and pay $30 for your first year of dues. As a Cadet Sponsor, you'll be able to help chaperone the cadets, ride or drive in the CAP vehicles, and otherwise help the other adult volunteer members. This category of membership does not wear a military-style uniform, but there are requirements for basic education and training before you can fully interact with the other cadets.
Senior Member -- If you are more interested in taking a leadership role in the Cadet Program or want to participate in CAP's aerospace education and emergency services missions, you should join as a Senior Member. The best way to learn about what you can do as a Senior Member is to talk to your child's squadron leadership about joining. You will need to submit and complete a membership application, fingerprint card and complete an orientation course. Annual membership dues vary by state.