civil air patrol

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the Air Force, is a volunteer, non-profit organization with its national headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.


The Civil Air Patrol performs three main functions -- aerospace education, cadet training and emergency services.

Emergency Services

CAP's emergency services includes air search and rescue, disaster relief and civil defense. Its members fly 80 percent of the search and rescue mission hours directed by the Air Force Rescue and Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

In 1993, aircrew members flew more than 34,600 hours in support of federally funded programs to include search and rescue, disaster relief and counterdrug operations. Civil Air Patrol was credited with saving 120 lives in 1993.

On Nov. 14, 1985, CAP agreed to assist the U.S. Customs Service in its counterdrug efforts by flying air reconnaissance missions along U.S. boundaries. In early 1989, similar agreements were made with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Forest Service. CAP participation only involves reconnaissance, transportation and communications support. Members do not carry firearms, make arrests or give chase to suspected drug traffickers.

Aerospace Education

The Civil Air Patrol's aerospace education programs provide its membership, and the educational community, information about aviation and space activities. Each year it supports about 200 aerospace education workshops for teachers at 150 colleges and universities around the country, preparing approximately 7,000 teachers to teach aerospace-related subjects in their classrooms. The organization also develops curriculum and publishes aerospace educational materials for use in the nation's schools. Together with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Federa Aviation Administration, CAP co-sponsors the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, the annual national convention for aerospace teachers.

Cadet Program

The purpose of the Cadet Program is to inspire the country's youth to become leaders and good citizens through their interest in aerospace. It is open to U.S. citizens and legal residents of the United States, its territories and possessions. Candidates for the program must be 13 to 18 years of age, or have satisfactorily completed the sixth grade.

Through studies and other activities, cadets progress through achievements that include special activities, aerospace education, leadership programs, moral leadership and physical fitness. As cadets progress they earn increased rank, awards or certificates. They may become eligible for CAP national or international special activities and compete for academic and flying scholarships. Upon completion of their initial training phase, cadets receive the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award, which entitles them to enter the Air Force as an Airman First Class, should they chose to enlist.


Civil Air Patrol has eight geographic regions composed of 52 wings -- one wing for each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Wings are subdivided into groups, squadrons and, sometimes, flights. There are approximately 1,700 individual units.

Headquarters Civil Air Patrol-United States Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., is staffed by military and civilian personnel, as authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force. HQ CAP-USAF personnel also function as the staff of National Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol. Additional CAP-USAF liaison personnel are assigned to CAP regions and wings to advise and assist field units. Air Force Reserve members also assist the Civil Air Patrol through the Reserve Assistance Program. In addition to personnel support, the Air Force provides equipment from Department of Defense excess items.

Membership consists of approximately 19,000 cadets and 34,000 adult volunteers. They wear the Air Force uniform, but with distinctive CAP emblems and insignia. Members operate more than 5,000 privately owned aircraft and 530 CAP aircraft and more than 950 CAP vehicles in support of the organization's programs.


Civil Air Patrol was founded Dec. 1, 1941. During World War II, its principal purpose was to allow private pilots and aviation enthusiasts to use their light aircraft and flying skills in civil defense efforts. In 1943, the organization came under control and direction of the Army Air Forces. Civil Air Patrol became a permanent peacetime institution July 1, 1946, when President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 476 establishing it as a federally chartered, benevolent, civilian corporation.

In May 1948, Public Law 557 made the organization the official auxiliary of the Air Force. This law, known as the CAP Supply Bill, authorized the secretary of the Air Force to assign military and civilian personnel to liaison offices at all levels of CAP.

Point of Contact

For more information about CAP or the address of respective state liaison offices write to: HQ CAP-USAF, Public Affairs Office; 105 S. Hansell St.; Bldg 714, Rm 256; Maxwell AFB AL 36112-6332; DSN 493-5463 or (205) 953-5463.

June, 1994




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