Joining Civil Air Patrol

Learning about CAP

The best way to start is by attending a few meetings to learn more about CAP. This also allows you to get to know the current members and for them to get to know you. The meetings take place every week (see the Meeting Information page for more information and directions).

You may also request information on how to join CAP from National Headquarters.

Joining CAP – Cadet Members

All applicants for a Cadet membership in the Civil Air Patrol must meet the following prerequisites:

  1. Be at least 12 years old and under 18 years old.
  2. United States citizen or alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.
  3. Enrolled in or graduated from a private, public, home school or college program with a  satisfactory record of academic achievement
  4. Not a member of the active duty Armed Forces.

Joining CAP – Senior Members

All applicants for Senior membership must meet the following prerequisites:

  1. Possess the desire, willingness, and capability to promote the objectives of the Civil Air Patrol.
  2. Must be at least 18 years old. Active duty members of the Armed Forces can join CAP as a Senior member at any age.
  3. United States citizen or alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.
  4. No felony conviction by any court of record whether federal, state, or military.
  5. No pattern of arrests and/or convictions including but not limited to sex offenses, child abuse, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI), dishonesty, and violence.
  6. If you were previously in the active duty military, you must have been discharged under honorable conditions.

Membership Application Process

We require all prospective members to attend a minimum of three meetings before we will endorse and submit their application. Please visit a squadron meeting and we will be happy to provide you with a membership application and fingerprint card (for senior members). You can also download a blank PDF copy of the application for cadets or senior members. A squadron endorsement is required for CAP National HQ to process applications, please do not mail applications for processing on your own, they will be returned.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Civil Air Patrol?

Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was created on 1 December 1941 by Administrative Order 9, with Maj. Gen. John F. Curry as the first CAP national commander. The organization was originally formed to provide civilian air support to aid the war effort of World War II through border and coastal patrols, military training assistance, courier services and other activities. These efforts were recognized and, after the close of the war, Civil Air Patrol was transferred from the United States Army to the newly formed Air Force. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization of volunteers and declared to be of a benevolent nature, never again to be involved in direct combat activities.

Since that time, Civil Air Patrol has carried out three congressionally-mandated objectives: emergency services (including search and rescue operations), aerospace education for youth and the general public, and cadet programs for teenage youth. In addition, it has been tasked with assisting the United States Department of Homeland Security, and also performs non-auxiliary missions for various governmental and private agencies, such as local law enforcement and the American Red Cross.

More history of Civil Air Patrol can be found at http://caphistory.org/.

Why should I join?

Members of Civil Air Patrol join for a variety of reasons. Many are interested in pursuing one of our three missions; Emergency Services, Cadet Programs, Aerospace Education. Information about those can be found here.

When can I sign up?

We require all prospective members to attend a minimum of three meetings before we will endorse and submit their application. For Cadet prospects, it is also necessary for the parents to attend (at least) one meeting and meet with members of our Cadet Programs Staff. Cadets must be at least 12 years old to join.

What will I be doing as a member?

If you are a Cadet member, you will be pursuing the accomplishment of progressing through the Cadet grades. Each Cadet grade comes with additional responsibility.

If you are a Senior Member (adult), you will be responsible for the welfare of Cadets. All Senior Members must submit to a background check. They must also submit a fingerprint card with their application for membership. Senior Members play a vital role in the Cadet Program, as at least one senior member must be present at all Cadet activities and with Cadets at all times during weekly meetings in order to supervise. Talk to one of our Cadet Programs Officers (Staff) to get more information.

Are there other activities besides the weekly meetings?

Yes! There are MANY other activities to attend. CAP participates in Airshows, Encampments, National Cadet Special Activities, Emergency Services Training and Missions, Communications Training, Conferences, and many more.

Is it expensive?

Every volunteer program, CAP included, comes with its costs. As a member, there are yearly dues to National Headquarters and the squadron. These dues go towards bettering the program at the National and Wing level.

For a limited time, new Cadet members may order a free pair of Blues when they first join CAP. However, Cadets must purchase the Air Force Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). These uniforms may sometimes be purchased from the squadron at little to no cost if previously worn inventory is available.

In addition to those costs, many activities outside of the regular meetings will have a small fee to pay for meals, billeting, etc. Overall, CAP involvement costs roughly the same as many sports programs. Details are available at our Squadron meetings.

I’m interested in Civil Air Patrol but I don’t think I will like the military stuff. Will I be yelled at and forced to do push-ups if I make mistakes?

Not at all. Many people have a preconceived notion of what the military is all about from watching movies, but that “hollywood” version is far from reality. The purpose of the military structure and organization of the cadet program is to develop traits such as teamwork, self-discipline, personal pride, and mutual respect. At no time are cadets allowed to be punished for anything with pushups or physical activities. If you are really concerned about this, please come see one of our meetings and discuss your reservations with the staff members. We would be more than glad to lay your fears to rest!

If I join Civil Air Patrol, will I have to go into the military?

Absolutely not! By joining CAP, you are not signing any kind of contract to join the military. Many of our cadets pursue service academies, ROTC, and military enlistment after graduating from high school, but that is their personal decision and not a requirement of membership.

Why do you wear military style uniforms?

CAP is the Civilian Auxiliary of the US Air Force, and part of their total force. The uniform reflects our relationship with the Air Force. 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.

Additional Questions?

Feel free to contact us, or stop by a squadron meeting, with any additional questions you may have.