CAP Missions

The Three Missions of Civil Air Patrol

Cadet Programs
Emergency Services
Aerospace Education

Cadet Programs: Through Civil Air Patrol's Cadet Program, young people develop leadership skills, investigate the fundamentals of aerospace science, acquire the habit of exercising regularly, develop and solidify their character, and participate in exciting hands-on activities that prepare them to become responsible citizens. Youth between the ages of 12-18 may join the CAP Cadet Program and remain in cadet status until they turn 21. The Cadet Program is built around a series of achievements that allow a cadet to develop self-discipline, responsibility, teamwork, and confidence through the study and practice of leadership in an enviroment patterned after the United States Air Force.  Cadets develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for understanding aerospace principles and the total impact of aerospace power upon society. Cadets have the opportunity to participate in a variety of special activities and programs. The Cadet Programs Moral Leadership or Character Development program gives Cadets the opportunity to develop a personal ethical foundation and an understanding of the moral issues of our time through discussion and debate. The Cadet Program stresses physical fitness and aids in developing a lifelong habit of regular exercise. Although CAP Cadets wear an Air Force style uniform, practice Air Force customs and courtesies, and follow a Chain of Command that is the same as the Air Force, CAP Cadets do not incur any military obligation by being a CAP member.

Emergency Services:  Civil Air Patrol  (CAP) provides services to conduct search and rescue (SAR), disaster relief (DR), and other public assistance missions. Today, CAP is tasked by the Air Force to handle 90 percent of inland search and rescue missions, with approximately 75 lives saved each year. CAP members are generally the first on the scene transmitting satellite digital images of the damage, within seconds, around the world and providing disaster relief and emergency services following natural and manmade disasters, including such phenomena as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Texas and Oklahoma wildfires, tornadoes in Colorado and the south and central U.S., flash flooding in North Dakota and the October 2006 earthquake in Hawaii, as well as humanitarian missions along the U.S. and Mexican border. Our missions are in support of persons in distress and should be conducted competently, expeditiously, and in a professional manner. Proper training, thoroughness, and timeliness cannot be overemphasized. Our volunteer members are trained utilizing strict standards and are able to respond rapidly when called. Cadets who wish to qualify for Emergency Services are trained to the same standards as the adult members and are an integral part of the CAP's effectiveness in responding to any emergency.  See the Emergency Services Page on this site for more information!

Aerospace Education: When Civil Air Patrol was incorporated on July 1, 1946 by Public Law 476, the law stated that among the organization's purposes are "To provide an organization to encourage and aid American citizens in contributing their efforts, services, and resources in developing aviation and in maintaining air supremacy" and "To provide aviation education and training especially to its senior and cadet members." Today, promoting aerospace education to our members and in America's schools remains one of the primary missions of CAP. Aerospace education is important to all CAP members, especially those in leadership positions. In the early years of the 21st century, America's aerospace industry is facing some tough challenges. Experienced aerospace industry workers are aging, averaging over 50 years of age. Meanwhile, the number of college graduates with science and engineering degrees going into aerospace careers is declining significantly. The talent base is dwindling. We, in Civil Air Patrol, play an important role in resolving this aerospace dilemma. We have the expertise and the products to make a huge difference for our organization and for our country. It doesn't take us long to realize the importance of aviation and space knowledge and the positive impact that knowledge can have on our nation. It all starts with our children, with our CAP units and with America's schools. From the very beginning of their education, students need to be exposed to the wonders of aerospace. CAP members have a resposibility to spread aerospace knowledge throughout CAP and our nation's schools. To achieve its aerospace education mission, CAP has developed many programs. These programs can be divided into two major parts; Member (formerly known as Internal programs) and Outreach (formerly known as External Programs). Member programs are those programs designed to help promote aerospace among CAP members, both cadets and seniors. The Outreach programs are designed to promote aerospace to America's schools (including K-12 and beyond), aerospace organizations and the general public.