New Cadets

Thank you for your 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.

Overview of the Cadet Program

To fulfill its goal of developing young people into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders, the Cadet Program is organized around four program elements.


CAP introduces cadets to Air Force perspectives on leadership through classroom instruction, mentoring and hands-on learning. First, cadets learn to follow, but as they progress, they learn how to lead small teams, manage projects, think independently and develop leadership skills they can use in adult life.


CAP inspires in youth a love of aviation, space and technology. Cadets study the fundamentals of aerospace science in the classroom, and experience flight first-hand in CAP aircraft. Summer activities allow cadets to explore aerospace career opportunities.


CAP encourages cadets to develop a lifelong habit of regular exercise. The Cadet Program promotes fitness through calisthenics, hiking, rappelling, volleyball, competitions and other activities.


CAP challenges cadets to live their Core Values. Through character forums, cadets discuss ethical issues relevant to teens. Chaplains often lead the discussions, but the forums are not religious meetings. CAP also encourages cadets to promote a drug free ethic in their schools and communities.

Participation & Expectations

We ask cadets to strive to achieve certain basic goals during their first year. While school and family obligations take priority over CAP, cadets make a solemn promise to participate in the program and give it a fair try. It’s okay to be absent sometimes, but here is some background for parents about those expectations and how to support your cadet in the program.

  • Cadets will attend weekly squadron meetings and one special “Saturday” activity per month, if available. It’s important to arrive on time and to let someone know about an absence.
  • Cadets are expected to complete achievements and advance through the cadet program. This requires independently studying leadership and aerospace materials and taking online tests outside of meetings. Many squadrons also communicate through email. Thank you for allowing your cadet sufficient internet access to complete these tasks.

  • Cadets are encouraged to attend encampment, the highlight of a cadet’s first year. An encampment is usually an overnight experience, 1-week in duration, held in the summer or over winter break.

  • If your cadet participates in special activities such as the Cyber Patriot team, color guard, or drill team, they are making a commitment to that team. Discuss the time requirements for participation beforehand with your cadet and local leaders.

  • Many young people participate in multiple after-school activities. Be aware that when other commitments result in the cadet showing up late or missing meetings, that could affect their role in the squadron and eligibility for special activities.


Cadet Orientation Flights: Safe, Fun, Educational

CAP’s volunteer pilots share their love of flying with cadets. Through orientation flights in powered aircraft and gliders, cadets experience flight first-hand. While aloft, cadets handle the controls during the noncritical stages of the flight. CAP’s pilots are licensed by the FAA, follow a syllabus for each flight, and ensure the flight is conducted safely. Cadets may also receive orientation flights in military aircraft. Orientation flights are free to cadets.