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Cadet Programs

Cadet FAQ

How old do I have to be to join?

Youth members must be at least 12 years old and not yet 19 years old.  Cadets joining a unit in their school may join under the age of 12 as long as they are in the sixth grade.  Cadets can remain a cadet until they are 21.  Cadets under 18 are restricted from some activities for safety and liability reasons.  For example, cadets cannot be a member of a flight crew until they are 18.  Cadets 18 and above can be CAP pilots if they have a valid pilot's license and can be flight crew (scanners, observers, aerial photographer, etc.) at 18.  Orientation flights are only available to cadets under 18.

Are non U.S. citizens allowed to join?

Aliens admitted for permanent residence are eligible.  Other non-citizens who are legally admitted to the country must request a waiver of the citizenship requirement through the unit they are joining.  

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

Civil Air Patrol does not preclude membership due to medical conditions or disabilities and is committed to doing everything we reasonably can to help cadets succeed.   Keep in mind that participation in certain activities may be limited for his or her safety depending on the cadet's condition, illness or disability.   Read more about Cadets with Special Needs.

Do cadets need to maintain a certain GPA to participate in CAP?

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.  Access to some advanced schools and programs are competitive and academics are often considered in the application process.

Do cadets have to join the military?

CAP is a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force, part of the total force structure,  and we wear the uniform with pride but we are not military.  We have no military obligation, no military commitment, no military authority.  We do not have or carry weapons.  Our missions primarily consist of emergency services and disaster recovery.

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 often do cadets meet?

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.  Bowie Composite Squadron cadets meet every Thursday 7-8:30pm with some weekend events, as required.

 You decide which activities interest you.  You are not required to attend.  Our squadron schedule is published on our web page.

Who leads and supervises the cadets?

CAP takes its responsibility to safeguard youth very seriously. The adult volunteers who interact with cadets (known as CAP senior members or cadet sponsors) have been fingerprinted and screened by the FBI. All adult members and cadets over 18  also take a Cadet Protection course as part of their initial training.  The cadets participate in the Wingman program which addresses cadet protection from the cadet's perspective.

What uniforms do cadets wear?

New cadets need one uniform to get started.  Eventually, the cadet will want to have both the camouflage utility uniform (ABU or BDU) and the Air Force-style blue uniform.  The squadron has a limited number of these free of charge although sizes and availability vary greatly.

Upon completing Achievement 1 and becoming a Cadet Airman, cadets qualify for the Curry Blues Voucher, which covers some of the costs of the Air Force-style blue uniform. Therefore, we suggest you obtain BDUs or ABUs first, and then use the Curry Blues Voucher to obtain your “blues.”      

How do cadets obtain uniforms?

Uniform items may be purchased through a variety of sources. The official source for CAP insignia and uniforms is Vanguard. Shop with them at vanguardmil.com, (800)221-1264. If you’re near an Air Force base, you can buy uniform garments (but not CAP insignia) at the Exchange or base thrift store.  The thrift store at Joint Base Andrews (and other facilities) provide used uniforms at no cost to CAP members with CAP ID.  Maryland Wing Headquarters also has lightly used uniforms at no charge.  

Does CAP teach cadets to fly?

All cadets have the opportunity to fly up to 5 Orientation Flights in a powered aircraft and, if available, 5 flights in a glider.  All cadets learn aviation fundamentals.  Cadets who advance in the program can apply for admission to several programs that can lead to a private pilot license. Admission to these programs is highly competitive and cadets must be motivated and must have good academic credentials in CAP and in school.

Does CAP offer any scholarships?

Yes, there are academic and flight scholarships available.  In addition, there are scholarships available to CAP cadets from other sources ... check with your admissions or guidance adviser.

How do cadets earn rank in CAP?

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.)  Cadets must be self-motivated to succeed.  CAP rank and other qualifications are earned.  They are not awarded for just showing up.

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