Cadet Programs

Civil Air Patrol's first cadet program established during World War II as a way to provide training for future pilots. Since then, the program has flourished, combining Aerospace Education with Leadership and Career training.

Today, CAP cadets are those members who join between their 12th and 18th birthday. Cadets who turn 18 may either become a Senior Member or remain a cadet until 21 at their own discretion. Young adults joining at the age of 18 can choose to be a Cadet or Senior Member.

Cadets are guided through five elements that make up the CAP cadet experience.

 To develop in cadets the ability to think independently and lead others in an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual respect.

Aerospace Education:
 To inspire in youth a love of aviation, space, and technology; provide them with a foundation in aerospace science principles; and introduce them to aerospace career opportunities.

Physical Fitness:
 To provide drills, games and other activities that promote lifelong physical fitness and increase confidence, teamwork and determination.

Character Development:
 To develop in cadets a commitment to live CAP's Core Values, and the ability to think critically about moral and ethical issues.

 To provide an opportunity for cadets to apply the leadership, aerospace, physical fitness, and other skills they develop throughout the program.


As a Cadet progresses through the cadet program, they earn various achievements by successfully passing Leadership, Aerospace Education and Drill tests. Test questions are derived from reading materials supplied to cadets. The program is designed to allow cadets to fill ever increasing leadership roles that are pertinent to their leadership studies.

As cadets advance through the ranks, they also progress through four stages of development.

Phase 1: The Learning Phase

 Introduces cadets to the CAP program, and cadets who pass all requirements receive the Wright Brothers award.

Phase 2: The Leadership Phase

 Places more responsibility on cadets as leaders of newer cadets. Cadets who complete The Leadership Phase receive their Mitchell Award, and are eligible for advanced promotion should they choose to enlist in the military.

Phase 3: The Command Phase

 Places cadets directly in command of other cadets, allowing cadets to accomplish tasks through their staff members for the first time. Cadets who complete The Command Phase are awarded the Earhart Award.

Phase 4: The Executive Phase

  The last phase of the cadet program focuses cadets on the operations of an entire unit. Cadets completing the command phase are awarded the Eaker Award, and may be awarded the Spaatz Award upon passing an extensive cumulative test.

As cadets progress through the program, they are placed in charge of lower ranking cadets. Cadet's are not given full reign over the others, but instead are expected to instruct classes and mentor each other. Senior Members, the adults of the program, also play a large role in mentoring and evaluating cadets. The numerous awards, achievements, and opportunities available to Civil Air Patrol cadets allow them to foster their leadership in an academic and forgiving environment.