Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Cadet FAQ

Q: How old do I have to be to join?

A: You can join CAP as a cadet if you are at least 12 years old and before your 19th birthday. Cadets can stay in the program until they turn 21 as long as they have not entered active duty and are enrolled in a school.

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Q: Am I expected to join the military?

A: No, you do not have to join the military, but many choose to do so. 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. But no matter what career you choose, the skills you learn in CAP will be invaluable.

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Q: How much does it cost for membership?

A: Annual membership dues for California is $40. Cadets receive their first blue Air Force style uniform at no cost and will receive a new member kit with learning materials. Additional activities may have fees to cover lodging and meals.

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Q: How much time will I have to give each week?

A: 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. Our squadron meets every Tuesday from 5:30PM to 8:00PM. There are also special activities on the weekends and during the summer.

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Q: Can I learn how to fly?

A: You will have the opportunity to fly in a CAP plane and possibly a military aircraft. CAP doesn’t teach you to fly, but you can compete for scholarships that will help pay for your pilot’s license.

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Q: Does CAP offer any scholarships?

A: Yes. See our scholarships page for details.

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Q: Can I join if I have a medical condition or disability?

A: Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities. However, participation in certain activities may be limited depending on the condition, illness or disability.

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Q: I want to join! Now what?

Please visit our "How to Join" page for a step-by-step guide to joining CAP.

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Prospective Parents FAQ

Q: How much does it cost for membership?

A: Annual membership dues for California is $40. Cadets receive their first blue Air Force style uniform at no cost and will receive a new member kit with learning materials. Additional activities may have fees to cover lodging and meals.

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Q: How old does my child have to be to join?

A: You child can join CAP as a cadet if they are at least 12 years old and before they turn 19. Cadets can stay in the program until they turn 21 as long as they have not entered active duty and are enrolled in a school.

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Q: Are they expected to join the military?

A: No, they do not have to join the military, 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. But no matter what career you choose, the skills you learn in CAP will be invaluable.

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Q: How much time will they have to give each week?

A: To get the most out of the cadet program they should participate regularly. Like any other activity, they’ll get out of CAP only what they put into it.

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Q: Can they learn how to fly?

A: Your son or daughter will have the opportunity to fly in a CAP plane and possibly a military aircraft. CAP doesn’t teach cadets to fly, but they can compete for scholarships that will help pay for a pilot’s license.

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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. All adult members also take a Cadet Protection course as part of their initial training.

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Q: Do cadets need to maintain a certain grade point average to participate in CAP?

A: 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 son's or daughter's grades increase as a result of their participation in the Cadet Program.

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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.

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Q: What uniforms do cadets wear?

A: The basic cadet uniform is the short-sleeve Air Force style blue uniform. Most cadets also must wear the BDU (camouflage) or the ABU uniform.

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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, 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, but most of the time you will need to purchase the items through the CAP uniform store www.vanguardmil.com or they may be purchased through the clothing sales store on military installations.

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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.

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Q: How do cadets advance and earn promotions?

A: Cadets advance at their own pace 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.)

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Q: Does CAP offer any scholarships?

A: Yes. See our scholarships page for details.

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Q: Can I be involved in CAP with my teen?

A: Absolutely! Some opportunities to share in the CAP experience are:

Cadet Sponsor Member -- Just like any other youth organization, CAP relies on parents to help support the program. Parents do have to undergo the same background screening process and cadet protection training as the other adult members and first year dues are just $30 and renewals are only $20. As a parent sponsor, you'll be able to help chaperone the kids, ride or drive in the CAP vehicles, and otherwise help the other adult volunteer members. You will not be required to wear the Air Force-style uniform.

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.. Talk with your child’s squadron commander about joining as a senior member. You will need to submit and complete a membership application, fingerprint card and complete an orientation course.

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Q: Can my child join if they have a medical condition or disability?

A: Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities. However, participation in certain activities may be limited depending on the condition, illness or disability.

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Prospective Senior Member FAQ

Q: How old do I have to be to join?

A: Senior Members must be at least 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.

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Q: Am I expected to join the military?

A: No, you do not have to join the military.

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Q: Is prior military experience counted?

A: Regular and Reserve officers of the Armed Forces of the United States, active, retired, or honorably discharged, may be advanced to a CAP grade equivalent to their grade in the Armed Forces (but not to exceed lieutenant colonel), in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Regular, Reserve, and National Guard Senior Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States, active, or retired, in the grade of E-7 through E-9 may receive an advanced CAP grade in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Such promotions are neither automatic nor mandatory, but are at the discretion of the promoting authority.

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Q: Do I have to wear a uniform?

A: Senior members may be required to wear a uniform during some activities - such as when flying in CAP aircraft. Senior members may wear the USAF style blue uniform or one of the distinctive CAP uniforms. However, some members choose to serve quietly without wearing a uniform. You can purchase uniform items from Vanguard. www.civilairpatrolstore.com.

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Q: Do CAP members have access to military bases and get to shop at the BX (Base Exchange)?

A: You will only have access to the base when participating in CAP events. You will be allowed to shop at the BX only when on official orders and lodged on the base. Authorized uniform items can be purchased at the Military Clothing sales store.

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Q: Are non U.S. citizens allowed to join?

A: Aliens admitted for permanent residence are eligible. Other non-citizens must request a waiver of the citizenship requirement through the wing and region commander.

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Q: I’m not a pilot. What would I do in CAP?

A: There are many volunteer positions in CAP. Whatever your talent or area of interest, there is a squadron or unit that needs you. To find out what positions might be available to you, contact a local squadron.

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Q: What criteria must a pilot meet to fly with CAP?

A: To be eligible to fly a corporate aircraft, the pilot must possess a valid FAA private, commercial or airline pilot certificate; must be an active CAP member at least 17 years in age; and must possess a valid and current medical certificate. The member must complete a flight check in the aircraft within the preceding 12 months as well as an annual written examination and annual aircraft questionnaires for each aircraft authorized to fly. The pilot must have 200 PIC hours and 50 cross-country PIC hours to serve as a mission pilot.

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Q: Will CAP train me to be a pilot?

A: CAP does not normally provide primary flight training for members. That said, we do have a lot of members who are also Certified Flight Instructors and often willing to provide training to members at reduced rates. Depending on your locality, CAP members may also have access to military aero clubs and their flight instructors which can be significantly cheaper than going through a normal commercial operation. We have several scholarships that help CAP Cadets obtain a pilot's license. See our scholarships page for details. Once you have your license, you can fly with CAP CFIs in CAP aircraft to increase your ratings which can also be significantly cheaper than a commercial operation again.

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Q: How much time will I have to give each week?

A: Our squadron meets every Tuesday from 6:30PM to 8:00PM. There are also special activities on the weekends and during the summer.

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Q: How do senior members advance in the program and earn promotions?

A: All promotions are at the discretion of your squadron commander, but the standard way to earn rank is determined by your time in CAP, time in your current rank, and the training you complete for your CAP position. There are other circumstances that warrant a promotion – for specifics, talk to your squadron commander. In order to receive any promotion, you must be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

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Q: What kind of aircraft does CAP have?

A: CAP has approximately 550 aircraft, mostly Cessna 182s and 172s. CAP has the largest fleet of single-engine piston aircraft in the world and through CAP’s volunteer members, CAP logs about 120,000 flying hours per year.

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Q: Why do I have to submit fingerprints with my application?

A: In order to ensure the best possible protection of CAP cadets, all senior members are fingerprinted and checked by the FBI to ensure no one with any violent or sexual-assault felony convictions has contact with the cadets.

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Q: How long does it take to process my application?

A: Once National Headquarters receives the completed application, fingerprint card, and correct dues the process generally takes 3-5 business days. However, if you’re membership is not yet active, please ask your commander if he has sent your application to NHQ. If he has, you can email NHQ for an update on the status of your membership at membershipservices@capnhq.gov

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Q: Do I get paid to be a member?

A: No, you are a volunteer member of Civil Air Patrol. All activities you do are donations of your time and expertise to help your country and community.

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Q: Am I considered a member of the military?

A: No, you are a civilian and do not have any obligation to any branch of the military. You can not be deployed, called to active duty, or forced to serve in any branch of the US Armed Services in any way. CAP members are not eligible to receive any Veterans Administration Benefits for their volunteer service to Civil Air Patrol.

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Q: I've been arrested/charged before; can I still be a member?

A: Having an arrest/conviction (or other similar charges) does not automatically preclude you from membership, although if you are on active probation this will disqualify you from joining. We can not make a determination until after you apply for membership in CAP. Just make sure that you note the charges on the application and supply any required information. Once the application comes to National Headquarters the Confidential Screening Coordinator will review your case.

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Q: How much does it cost for membership?

A: Annual membership dues for California Senior Members is $79. Yearly renewal costs $79. Additional activities may have fees to cover lodging and meals.

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Q: Can I join if I have a medical condition or disability?

A: Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities. However, participation in certain activities may be limited depending on the condition, illness or disability.

*Back to Top*

Q: I want to join! Now what?

Please visit our "How to Join" page for a step-by-step guide to joining CAP.

*Back to Top*

FAQ for Pilots

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Annual membership dues for California Senior Members is $79. Yearly renewal costs $79. Additional activities may have fees to cover lodging and meals.

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Q: How old do I have to be to join?

A: Senior Members must be at least 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.

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Q: Am I expected to join the military?

A: No, you do not have to join the military.

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Q: How do I become a CAP Pilot?

A: You must first become qualified as a CAP Pilot. The next level of service is to be a Transport Mission Pilot (TMP). Until you become a CAP TMP, you are limited to checking out in the local aircraft (C172 or 182 most likely) and maintaining your personal and FAA currency.

The general qualifications to become a CAP pilot are:

Be an active CAP member at least 17 years of age (16 years of age for CAP glider pilots).

Possess a valid FAA private, commercial, or airline transport pilot certificate.

Possess a class III or higher medical certificate (not required for gliders).

Possess a current flight review IAW FAR 61.56.

Satisfactorily complete a CAP Form 5 flight check (similar to a BFR) in an aircraft (in an appropriate group) within the preceding 12 months.

Complete an annual CAP Form 5 written examination and annual aircraft questionnaires for each aircraft authorized to fly.

The qualifications to become a Transport Mission Pilot are: During authorized Emergency Services missions, CAP Transport Pilots may transport CAP members, ferry aircraft, fly “high bird” communication sorties, and transport parts or equipment needed for missions.

At least 18 years of age.

Current and qualified CAP pilot in accordance with CAPR 60-1, with at least 100 hours pilot in command time including at least 50 hours of cross-country flying.

Qualified General Emergency Services.

Qualifications to become a Search and Rescue/Disaster Relief Mission Pilot – Once becoming a CAP Pilot and attaining 175 hours PIC time with 50 hours of cross-country time one can start training to become a SAR/DR Mission Pilot. (50 hours X-C is the A to B, 50 NM or more, kind)

Qualified Transport Mission Pilot

At least 200 hours pilot in command time and 50 hours of cross-country flying 3. Qualified Mission Scanner

Complete all requirements listed in the most current version of the Aircrew and Flight Line Task Guide for MP.

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Q: Will CAP teach me to fly?

A: CAP does not normally provide primary flight training for members. That said, we do have a lot of members who are also Certified Flight Instructors and often willing to provide training to members at reduced rates. Depending on your locality, CAP members may also have access to military aero clubs and their flight instructors which can be significantly cheaper than going through a normal commercial operation. We have several scholarships that help CAP Cadets obtain a pilot's license. Unfortunately, we do not have any scholarships for adult members. See our scholarships page for details.

Once you have your license, you can fly with CAP CFIs in CAP aircraft to increase your ratings which can also be significantly cheaper than a commercial operation again.

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Q: How much time will I have to give each week?

A: Our squadron meets every Tuesday from 6:30PM to 8:00PM. There are also special activities on the weekends and during the summer. Training to fly for CAP might require more time then the weekly meetings.

*Back to Top*

Q: What kind of aircraft does CAP have?

A: CAP has approximately 550 aircraft, mostly Cessna 182s and 172s. CAP has the largest fleet of single-engine piston aircraft in the world and through CAP’s volunteer members, CAP logs about 120,000 flying hours per year.

*Back to Top*

Q: Do I have to wear a uniform?

A: Senior members may be required to wear a specific uniform during certain activities, when flying in CAP aircraft for example. Senior members may wear the USAF style blue uniform or one of the distinctive CAP uniforms. However, some members choose to serve quietly without wearing a uniform. You can purchase uniform items from Vanguard www.civilairpatrolstore.com.

*Back to Top*

Q: Is prior military experience counted?

A: Regular and Reserve officers of the Armed Forces of the United States, active, retired, or honorably discharged, may be advanced to a CAP grade equivalent to their grade in the Armed Forces (but not to exceed lieutenant colonel), in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Regular, Reserve, and National Guard Senior Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States, active, or retired, in the grade of E-7 through E-9 may receive an advanced CAP grade in recognition of their military knowledge and experience.

Such promotions are neither automatic nor mandatory, but are at the discretion of the promoting authority.

*Back to Top*

Q: Do CAP members have access to military bases and get to shop at the BX (Base Exchange)?

A: You will only have access to the base when participating in CAP events. You will be allowed to shop at the BX only when on official orders and billeted on the base. Authorized uniform items can be purchased at the Military Clothing sales store.

*Back to Top*

Q: Are non U.S. citizens allowed to join?

A: Aliens admitted for permanent residence are eligible. Other non-citizens must request a waiver of the citizenship requirement through the wing and region commander.

*Back to Top*

Q: How do senior members advance and earn promotions?

A: All promotions are at the discretion of your squadron commander, but the standard way to earn rank is determined by your time in CAP, time in your current rank, and the training you complete for your CAP position. There are other circumstances that warrant a promotion – for specifics, talk to your squadron commander. In order to receive any promotion, you must be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

*Back to Top*

Q: Why do I have to submit fingerprints with my application?

A: In order to ensure the best possible protection of CAP cadets, all senior members are fingerprinted and checked by the FBI to ensure no one with any violent or sexual-assault felony convictions has contact with the cadets.

*Back to Top*

Q: Can I join if I have a medical condition or disability?

A: Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities. However, participation in certain activities may be limited depending on the condition, illness or disability.

*Back to Top*

Q: I want to join! Now what?

Please visit our "How to Join" page for a step-by-step guide to joining CAP.

*Back to Top*