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FAQ Cadets



4 minute video: "Eyes in the Sky: Civil Air Patrol" Virginia Wing, (CBS news)


Wondering what its like to be a Cadet?  Here is a 70 second "Cadet Life" video (Thanks to National Capital Wing HQ 2011)



How old do I have to be to join?

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 are enrolled in a school, have not entered active duty or gotten married.


Am I expected to join the military?

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.


How much does it cost for membership?

Annual membership dues vary by state; as of Sept 2019 the cost for PA wing is $37.00  Please click here to view the current membership dues table.  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.


How much time will I have to give each week?

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 weekly for about 2 hours and offers special activities on occasional weekends and during the summer.


Can I learn to fly?

Yes.  Historically CAP has offered five orientation flights, five glider flights and the opportunity to attend the National Flight Academy where you can get ten dedicated hours of training and take your first solo flight.  Additional training is made available by your Wing and the volunteer CFI's (certified flight instructors)  who use CAPs planes.   Here is a short video on the National Flight Academy from 2012:


Here is a video showcasing the Glider program (Soaring Academy) from 2013:



Does CAP offer any scholarships?

Yes. See the scholarships page on for more details.


I want to join! Now what?

Come to a meeting!  You must attend at least three meetings and sit before a membership review board before you will be allowed to join.  You can find the unit locator on the national site


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

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. 


National Cadet Special activities; here are a few sample videos:

PJOC - Para Rescue and Survival Orientation Course (CAP's Hardest NCSA)



Hawk Mountain Range School - Promo 2016


"I am a Blue Beret - Independent Documentary":


The International Cadet Exchange program has been around for many years; here is a retro 1958 video narrated by Jimmy Stewart (you may remember him from "Its a Wonderful Life"):



Do you want to know what opening formation looks like?  Would you like to see and hear some of the cadets that are involved in our program as they state the Cadet Oath and other things?  Check out this short video recorded by one of our parents (courtesy of Lawrence County Squadron)


The Civil Air Patrol is the 4th part of our nations Air Force; Active, Reserve, Guard and Auxiliary. Our volunteers perform search and rescue, aerial surveillance and other non combat missions as one of our Three missions.  The other two missions are the Aerospace Education and Cadet Programs. 


Sample activities they can do include your standard JROTC type stuff; Drill & Ceremony, Honor Guard, Air Force style Physical Training (difficulty lowered depending on age and gender) and leadership training.


Things we do above and beyond your standard JROTC program include live mission support with Emergency Services, Aerospace education, Community Service and numerous National Cadet Special Activities.


There are Honor Guard, Small Ensemble Choral & Musical requests that come in from veteran hospitals, nursing homes and other community events


This is an incredible program that has given many cadets unique opportunities to grow, learn and become better people.  Some go off to college, others end up in Military Academies, West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy etc..   No matter what path you choose this program can help prepare you to be adults and leaders.


Squadrons meet once a week, there is generally one squadron per county.

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