Thinking about joining?

During our weekly Monday night meetings cadets aged 12-20 get hands-on training in leadership, aerospace education, emergency services, physical training, and Air Force drill.
Today’s cadets are tomorrow’s aerospace leaders. Through its Cadet Program, Civil Air Patrol transforms youth aged 12 to 20 into responsible citizens.
On the first Monday of the month, Cadets participate in Character development classes/activities. Also on this night, cadets who have completed requirements for the next level in the program will get promoted to the next rank.
Uniform of the day: Blues Uniform
The second Monday cadets will engage in physical training (PT) as a requirement for promotion and to encourage and uphold CAP’s standards of physical fitness. The PT test includes the mile run, push-ups, sit-ups, and sit-and-reach.  Following PT cadets learn leadership through fun activities and engaging discussion.
Uniform of the day: PT Uniform
The third Monday cadets learn about the basics of aviation and aerospace history with illustrations and models of aircraft.
Uniform of the day: BDU/ABU
The fourth Monday is used to teach cadets the essentials of emergency services, including how to use basic survival equipment such as compasses, maps, radios, etc., and help them earn the qualifications to go on real-life search and rescue missions.
Uniform of the day: BDU/ABU
In the case of a fifth Monday the evening will often be spent in team-building exercises and fun activities.
Uniform of the day: BDU/ABU

Experience the Thrill of Flight

Cadets also may receive five free orientation flights (O-rides) when they join. O-rides take place in a CAP-owned, single-engine plane flown by a licensed CAP pilot. During these flights, cadets learn the mechanics of the plane, how it operates, and are even given a chance to fly once take-off has been established. O-rides are a chance for cadets to experience flight hands-on and gain a better understanding of aviation. This is a fun experience that helps cadets learn the parts of an airplane, get the chance to fly, and often has a lasting impact on their love of aerospace.

Encampment – Teamwork and Friendship

During the summer cadets get the chance to go to an encampment, which can also be described as CAP’s equivalent to “boot camp” scaled to target the abilities of and provide a attainable challenges for teenagers. At encampment cadets experience a rigorous, week-long mental and physical challenge. Encampment pushes cadets to excel and gives them a lasting impression of teamwork and commitment. The only requirement for a cadet to go to encampment is his/her Curry award, which is his/her first promotion. Encampment is a fun experience for cadets to learn to work as a team and make new friends during their time there. Graduating from an encampment also allows the cadet to become eligible to apply for National Cadet Special Activities (NCSAs) which are yet another way for cadets to expand their growth and education as individuals and future leaders.

To get started, just contact us to attend our squadron’s next weekly meeting.

“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

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.

Adult Supervision

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. Most cadets also choose to wear the optional BDU (camouflage) uniform.

Q:  How do cadets obtain uniforms?
A:  New cadets are eligible to receive the Air Force style blue uniform at no cost to them through the Cadet Uniform Program, upon joining (depending on the availability of Air Force funding). See your local squadron commander for details. BDUs and other uniform items may be available through your squadron's supply, and may be purchased through the clothing sales store on military installations.

Q:  How do cadets obtain uniform insignia?
A:  Vanguard is CAP’s official supplier of uniform insignia. Here is a list of the insignia needed for the “blues” and “BDU” uniforms:

Air Force “Blues” UniformCamouflage “BDU” Uniform

Flight cap device – CAP0748A”Civil Air Patrol”

cloth tape – CAP0599K3-

Line nameplate – CAP0599

MCloth nametape (last name) – CAP0599HACAP

4432430 CAP cutouts –

CAP0820Note: only one set of CAP cutouts is needed, even if the cadet has both uniforms

Q:  Where do the patches, insignia, etc. go on the uniform?
A:   See the uniform mini-posters (PDF) included in your cadet member kit.


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.

Cadet Promotions

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.  Visit our Activities page for information about Encampment, Leadership Schools, National Special Activities, and more.


Q:  Does CAP offer any scholarships?
A:  Yes. See our scholarships page for details.

Additional Questions & Concerns

Q:  I have more questions about CAP. Where can I find answers?
A:  CAP’s on-line Knowledgebase is a great source for more information about CAP programs. Of course, your son’s or daughter’s squadron commander will also be glad to answer your questions.

Thinking about Joining?

If you are a young man or woman interested in the cadet program feel free to join us at one of our meetings. We’d like you to visit us three times before you sign (and pay membership fees) so you’re sure this is for you.


New Cadets and Parents Information

Letter from our Squadron Commander

Virginia Wing Cadet Programs

National CAP website information for New Cadets

National CAP website information for Parents

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.

For an example of this type of training, see Training Leaders of Cadets.

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 page